Tribute to Yuri Gagarin - 50th anniversary of the first man in space

8 April 2011

“The world’s first spaceship, Vostok, with a man on board, was launched into orbit from the Soviet Union on 12 April 1961. The pilot space-navigator of the satellite-spaceship Vostok is a citizen of the USSR, Flight Major Yuri Gagarin.”

To the world of 1961, this was an electrifying announcement, made while Gagarin was still in space. The Americans were stunned, but the congratulations they sent to Moscow were genuine. This historic 108-minute flight, orbiting once around Earth, made Gagarin the first human in space, and an international hero. He was only 27 years old.

New video released: Yuri Gagarin - Inspiration for European astronauts

ESA pays tribute to five decades of human spaceflight with a video from the European Astronaut Centre remembering the historic flight of 12 April 1961.

Yuri Gagarin was the first to see Earth from space and his legacy has inspired many young people to follow careers in science and engineering - and to become astronauts.

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