It was 1955 when both the United States and the Soviet Union announced that they were going to launch satellites into space. This was the beginning of the space race. Both countries were successful in launching a satellite and began to race towards launching the first man into space.
Who was the first man to travel into space?
It was on the 12th of April 1961 when the Soviet Union launched “Vostok 1,” carrying cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space. He orbited earth for 108 minutes (this was one full orbit of the earth) and made re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Soviet Union where he ejected and parachuted to the ground.
Interesting facts about Vostok 1
- The mission was controlled automatically and the controls on the spacecraft were locked because none of the experts were certain if a human could survive in space. However, the code to unlock the controls was given to Gagarin in case of emergency.
- The Soviet Union lied about the parachute landing until 1971, because the rules at the time stated that the pilot needed to land with the spacecraft for the flight to be considered official.
- The landing site has been made into a monument park which consists of a 25 meter tall monument and a statue of Yuri Gagarin.
- Gagarin was surprisingly calm before the flight. Only half an hour before launch his heartbeat was recorded at just 64 beats per minute.
- After the success of the first flight Gagarin became an instant celebrity. He toured many countries to speak about the achievement.
- He was banned from any further spaceflights because the Soviet Union was worried they would lose their hero to an accident. Ironically he died in a routine training flight in a MIG Aircraft in 1968.