Yuri Gagarin

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Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin - Cosmonaut & Explorer (1934 - 1968)

Yuri Gagarin was a Russian Soviet pilot and cosmonaut (astronaut). He led the way in space exploration by becoming the first human to travel into outer space and complete an orbit of the Earth. His journey paved the way for further manned missions to explore space, including the USA's Apollo 11 mission which successfully landed two astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, on the moon. The mysterious death of Yuri Gagarin has been the subject of much speculation.

This page details facts about Yuri Gagarin's life and death, and the events that shaped his history.

Yuri Gagarin the Explorer - Fun Facts for Kids !
Yuri Gagarin Fact   1: Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was born on 9th March 1934 in Klushino, near Gzhatsk in Smolensk Oblast, Russia.
Yuri Gagarin Fact   2: His father, Alexey Ivanovich Gagarin, was a carpenter and bricklayer, and his mother, Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina, was a milkmaid. Yuri Gagarin had an older brother and sister as well as a younger brother.
Yuri Gagarin Fact   3: In November 1941, the Nazis were advancing on Moscow and occupied Klushino. Yuri Gagarin and his family were removed from their home and a German officer took it over. They were allowed to construct a 10ft x 10ft mud hut behind the house, which Yuri Gagarin and his family lived in until the occupation ended 21 months later. The family moved to Gzhatsk in 1946.
Yuri Gagarin Fact   4:

Yuri Gagarin became an apprentice foundry man at the age of 16, working at a steel plant in Lyubertsy near Moscow. At the same time he was attending seventh grade evening classes. Yuri Gagarin graduated, with honours, as a mould maker and foundry man in 1951. Following selection for further training, Yuri Gagarin studied at Saratov Industrial Technical School.

Yak 18
Yuri Gagarin Fact   5:

During his time in Saratov, Yuri Gagarin worked as a part time dock labourer and attended a local flying club where he’d volunteered to train as a Soviet air cadet. Yuri Gagarin learned to fly in a biplane then progressed to a Yakovlev Yak-18, a two seat military training aircraft. He was also keen on sport participating in basket ball and ice hockey.


Picture of Yak 18

Yuri Gagarin Fact   6: In 1955 Yuri Gagarin was drafted by the Soviet army after graduating from the Saratov Industrial Technical School. He was sent to the First Chkalov Air Force Pilot's School in Orenburg, close to the Kazakhstan border.
Yuri Gagarin Fact   7: Yuri Gagarin Graduated from the First Chkalov Air Force Pilot's School on 7th November 1957 and became a Lieutenant in the Soviet Air Force. On the same day Yuri Gagarin married Valentina Ivanovna Goryacheva, a medical technician graduate he’d met at a dance in the school.
Yuri Gagarin Fact   8: Following his graduation, Yuri Gagarin was posted to the Luostari airbase in Murmansk Oblast, in the north west of Russia near the border with Norway. The climate in the area is unstable with high winds and and a high level of precipitation, making flying dangerous. On 6th November 1959 Yuri Gagarin was promoted to Senior Lieutenant.
Yuri Gagarin Fact   9: Yuri Gagarin had taken a keen interest in the historical flight of Sputnik 1 and the voyage of Luna-3, which had photographed the far side of the moon in 1959. In 1960 Yuri Gagarin applied for cosmonaut training and, following selection for the Soviet space program, was stationed in Star City, a purpose built facility just outside Moscow.
Yuri Gagarin Fact 10: During training Yuri Gagarin underwent many tests to assess his psychological and physical endurance, including spending long periods of time in a sensory deprivation chamber and in heat chambers. Yuri Gagarin was also involved in experiments with weightlessness. Yuri Gagarin took part in test flights under stress with every reaction closely monitored.
Yuri Gagarin Fact 11: One man would be selected from this elite group to take part in the Vostok programme. Following the training sessions, Yuri Gagarin and his compatriot Gherman Titov were shortlisted for the first launch. At 5ft 2 in tall Yuri Gagarin was the ideal height for the confined space in the Vostok cockpit, and was eventually chosen to become the first cosmonaut by Chief Designer Sergei Korolev, the head of the Soviet space programme.
Yuri Gagarin Fact 12: Baikonur Cosmodrome, located on the Kazakh Steppe, which is leased to Russia by the Kazakhstan government, was the world’s first space launch facility. It was on 12th April 1961 that this site saw the launch of the Vostok 3KA-3, known as Vostok 1, with Yuri Gagarin on board. As the rocket took off Yuri Gagarin shouted ‘Poyekhali!’ (Let’s Go!).
Yuri Gagarin Fact 13: This historic moment secured Yuri Gagarin’s place in history as being the first human in space and the first human to orbit the Earth. This flight, by Yuri Gagarin, still holds the record for being the shortest manned orbital flight, lasting 108 minutes from launch to landing. The flight ended for Yuri Gagarin, as planned, when at a height of 23,000 ft he was ejected from the capsule and parachuted to the ground approximately 175 miles west of Baikonur.
Yuri Gagarin Fact 14: Yuri Gagarin became a national hero and was driven in a procession of cars through Moscow to the Kremlin, to receive the title ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ from Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union. He toured the world promoting the Soviet Union’s achievement and becoming a celebrity.
MiG-15UTI Jet Fighter Yuri Gagarin Fact 15:

Following a spell as deputy to the Soviet of the Union, Yuri Gagarin returned to Star City. He became a Lieutenant Colonel of the Soviet Air Forces, before being promoted to Colonel. He became backup pilot for Vladimir Komarov in the Soyuz 1 mission, although Soviet officials tried to prevent him flying for fear of losing their hero. Yuri Gagarin was permanently banned from participating in training or space flights following the death of Komarov when his parachutes failed during re-entry.

Yuri Gagarin Fact 16:

On 27th March 1968 at the age of 34, while on a routine training flight in a MiG-15UTI jet fighter, Yuri Gagarin was involved in a crash which resulted in his death. His body was cremated and his ashes buried in the Kremlin walls in Red Square.

Picture of MiG-15UTI Jet Fighter

Yuri Gagarin Fact 17: The cause of the crash, and Yuri Gagarin's death, remains the subject of much speculation and many theories. One of the most likely theories was put forward by Alexey Leonov, part of the State Commission put together to investigate the crash in 1968. In 2013 Leonov stated, on Russian television, that a report on the incident had become declassified and revealed that a Sukhoi Su-15, supersonic interceptor jet, was flying below it’s minimum allowed altitude in the area. He went on to describe how the Su-15 had passed close to Yuri Gagarin’s plane without realising it due to poor weather conditions. This sent Yuri Gagarin’s plane into an uncontrollable tailspin which resulted in the fatal crash.
Yuri Gagarin Fact 18: Yuri Gagarin has been honoured in many ways all over the world and even on the moon. These include Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin placing a satchel containing commemorative medals, depicting both Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Komarov, on the moon. The Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad that saw the launches of Sputnik 1 and Vostok 1 is now known as Gagarin’s Start, and a statue of Yuri Gagarin is located outside the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. Gzhatsk, where he once lived, was renamed Gagarin in his honour.
Yuri Gagarin the Explorer (1934 - 1968) Fun Facts Info for Kids !

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