17 February 2009

First Man in Space - Yuri Gagarin

The Earth is blue.....How wonderful. It is amazing .
- Yuri Gagarin

On 12 April 1961, Gagarin became the first human to travel into space , launching to orbit aboard the Vostok 3KA-2 (Vostok 1). To commemorate 75th Birth anniversary of first Space man Macedonia has issued a stamp on 4 Feb 2009. Here is also a Max Card on Yuri Gagarin from my collection which I collected during my college days. It also shows his autograph.

Colonel Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was born of a peasant family in the village of Klushino, Smolensk region. His education was primarily in the vocations until he entered pilot training at Orenburg in 1957. He graduated with honors from the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy in 1967. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was called "The Columbus of The Cosmos," an apt and well-deserved title. His epic 108 minute Earth orbital flight on April 12,1961, was far more than just a successful operational mission. It was man's first encounter with the nether regions of space and the beginning of man's journey to the stars. As pilot of the spaceship Vostok 1, he proved that man could endure the rigors of lift-off, re-entry, and weightlessness, and yet still perform the manual operations essential to spacecraft flight.

Gagarin was superbly prepared for his encounter with history, both physically and technologically. On the night before his flight while others paced and worried, "Cosmonaut One" slumbered. When asked how he could sleep so peacefully on the eve of the launching, Yuri answered, "Would it be right to take off if I were not rested? It was my duty to sleep so I slept." This is discipline and dedication at its best. At the conclusion of his flight, he was subjected to the most intensive debriefing and scientific examination. It was found in spite of the difficult and strange weightless environment, his great skill permitted him to work and to record important data which his fellow astronauts and scientific collaborators would find vital to future space flights. His impressions of space flight are filled with words of poetry - joy - beauty - black sky - bright stars - these are the universal words of the pilot who knows and loves the firmament. The light of the bright star of Yuri Gagarin was extinguished on March 27, 1968, when his aircraft crashed near Moscow.

During his flight, Gagarin whistled the famous 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".

Fame and later life
After the flight, Gagarin became a worldwide celebrity, touring widely with appearances in Italy, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, and Japan to promote the Soviet achievement. In 1962, he began serving as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet. He later returned to Star City, the cosmonaut facility, where he worked on designs for a reusable spacecraft. Gagarin worked on these designs in Star City for 7 years. Gagarin became Lieutenant Colonel (or Podpolkovnik) of the Soviet Air Force on 12 June 1962 and on 6 November 1963 he received the rank of Colonel (Polkovnik) of the Soviet Air Force. Soviet officials tried to keep him away from any flights, being worried of losing their hero in an accident. Gagarin was backup pilot for Vladimir Komarov in the Soyuz 1 flight. As Komarov's flight ended in a fatal crash, Gagarin was ultimately banned from training for and participating in further spaceflights.

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