Monday, April 11, 2011
Yuri Gagarin: First Man in Space.108 mins that stunned the world: Russia and the World honors Gagarin.
April 11th, 2011
Phoenix, AZ @ 20:30 MNT
On April 12th, 2011, the world is marking the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight.
The information presented below is my own contribution to this beautiful and grandiose event. We all, who somehow remember that glorious time in the history of the world, will never forget Yuri’s first flight into the orbit in the history of mankind. It is hoped that in the fifty years from today, the world will still pay tribute the first man concurred space.
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (Russian: Ю́рий Алексе́евич Гага́рин); 9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968, was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. Gagarin was born into a family of a peasant. He was the first human to journey into outer space when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961. Yuri’s sincere smile symbolizes the beginning of the space exploration era for 50 years.
Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and honours, including Hero of the Soviet Union.
“He became a pilot and then the world’s first-ever cosmonaut. He could find a common language with anyone, even with the British Queen, who once invited him for dinner,” cosmonaut Pavel Popovich said.
Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup to the Soyuz 1 mission, which ended in a fatal crash. Gagarin later became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, which was later named after him.
He became the most famous and probably the most recognizable man on the planet at age 27.
His call sign in this flight was Kedr. During his flight, Gagarin famously whistled the tune "The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows." The first two lines of the song are: "The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky". This patriotic song was written by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1951 (opus 86), with words by Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky.
Gagarin died when a training jet he was piloting crashed in 1968.
He did not have a vestige of the superiority complex because of his fame and will always be remembered as a simple, friendly man.
The article below was writtten by Alissa de Carbonnel; edited by Paul Taylor)
STAR CITY, Russia | Mon Apr 11, 2011 9:47am EDT
Sergei Khrushchev, center, joins, from left, historian Sergo Mikoyan, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, and Yuri Gagarin, at the Kremlin, in Moscow, in 1962.
(Reuters) - His 108-minute flight into space 50 years ago set new a horizon for humanity and overnight turned a farmworker's son named Yuri Gagarin into one of the century's heroes.
But half a century after his exploit captured the world's imagination and fueled a space race with the United States, Russia has found it necessary to release top secret archives to counter persistent rumors that Gagarin was later murdered on the orders of jealous or paranoid Soviet rulers.
"Gagarin once said: 'To me my whole life seems to be one perfect moment,'" recalled veteran Soviet space journalist Vladimir Gubarev earlier this month.
The 27-year-old's single Earth orbit on April 12, 1961 was one of the Soviet Union's most enduring Cold War victories and is proudly remembered today, especially in the cosmonaut town that is the heart of the nation's space program.
Star City, the world's oldest space-flight training center, resembles in many ways a shrine to the first man in space, whose premature death in a mysterious plane crash seven years after his flight cemented a poster-boy status.
Visitors on a rare open day were greeted by a lone statue of Gagarin dominating the snowy paths between worn buildings scattered behind a perimeter fence in a pine forest outside Moscow like some isolated university campus.
A mural of the national hero leads into a small museum hall filled with memorabilia: Gagarin's orange-brown space suit, gifts from foreign dignitaries and a room that painstakingly re-creates his office as it was on the day he died.
One striking photo shows Gagarin's round orbiter, scorched from its fiery descent, lying in a field in Russia's central Saratov region, where he was famously offered milk and bread by an astonished farmworker moments after landing.
NEW EVIDENCE ON DEATH
Conspiracy theories abound that he did not die in a plane crash, but was murdered on the orders of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev for an unspecified offence or disloyalty to the party.
In an apparent bid to quash such whisperings about Gagarin's death ahead of the anniversary, the archives declassified by post-Soviet Russia last week shed new light on the crash.
The documents show a Soviet probe concluded that Gagarin had most likely lost control of his jet after swerving sharply to avoid a weather-forecasting balloon, archives official Alexander Stepanov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.
Gagarin's maiden orbit nearly ended in disaster. "For 10 whole minutes of his flight, he thought he was dead," said Gubarev, who knew Gagarin as a young fighter pilot.
"The flight was absolutely heroic. It was unimaginably difficult. People thought a man might go crazy in space," he told Reuters.
When Gagarin's Vostok-1 capsule hit the atmosphere on re-entry, the cables hooking the descent module to the service module failed to separate.
The craft shook violently before they burned loose and Gagarin was sucked down by gravity. He experienced G-forces -- the force of gravity on a body -- two to three times steeper than those felt by today's astronauts.
"When I dream now, it is mostly nightmares about the descent," said veteran cosmonaut Georgy Grechko, 79, who worked as an engineer on Gagarin's space capsule.
"When the craft re-enters the thick levels of the Earth's atmosphere, it burns. The flames tear at the craft. It rolls and the coating melts. It's scary."
A letter Gagarin drafted to be sent to his family in case he died was among the documents declassified last week, and offered a glimpse into the steely-eyed courage of the young pilot.
"I trust the hardware completely. It will not fail. But it can happen that a man trips at ground level and breaks his neck. Some accident may happen," the letter previewed by opposition paper Novaya Gazeta said.
"If it does... do not waste yourself with grief. Life is life, and nobody is safe from being run over by a car."
FROM FARM BOY TO SPACE ICON
The 19 candidates selected for the Vostok-1 flight were all test pilots, unafraid of speed, and slight enough in build to fit into the tiny 2m-wide (6ft) capsule.
The Soviet-era charm of Gagarin's humble roots may have favored him over others, including his backup Gherman Titov.
Born in the village of Klushino, some 150 km (95 miles) west of Moscow, his father was a carpenter and his mother a milkmaid. The family was forced to live in a tiny mud hut when the village was burned down during the German occupation in World War Two.
"Yura (Gagarin) was a very quick learner. He assimilated everything new. His mind was stellar," Gubarev said.
Gagarin sung Soviet hymns during the last checks, strapped atop the 30m-high (98 ft) rocket that would blast him into space from the long-secret Baikonur cosmodrome on the Kazakh steppe.
"Poyekhali! (Let's go!)," he cried, in a phrase that has become synonymous with Gagarin in Russia.
"The most emotional moment was when we heard he was walking and waving; his arms and legs were whole. We understood in one sigh that our five to six years of hard work had paid off and we had achieved something huge," Grechko said.
The United States responded 10 months later, when John Glenn made the first U.S. orbital flight.