Detail map of Qızılorda oblısı, Kazakhstan Overview map of Qızılorda oblısı, Kazakhstan

A: Qızılorda oblısı, Kazakhstan

Yuri Gagarin Becomes the First Human to Travel into Space and the First to Orbit the Earth

Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok 1, as televised to launch control.

Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok 1, as televised to launch control.

On April 12, 1961 Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, aboard the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft on the Vostok 1 spaceflight, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome Site  No. 1 became both the first human to travel into space, and the first to orbit the earth. Gagarin's Vostok 1 spaceflight consisted of a single orbit of the earth lasting 108 minutes. Gagarin ejected from the spacecraft at 7 km, 23,000 feet, and parachuted to earth separately from the spacecraft.

In his secret postflight report, Gagarin described the first human experience of spaceflight, and prolonged microgravity: 

"I ate and rank normally, I could eat and drink. I noticed no physiological difficulties. The feeling of weightlessness was somewhat unfamilar compared with Earth conditions. Here, you feel as if you were hanging in a horzontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended. Obviously, the tightly fitted suspension system presses upon the thorax. . . . Later I got used to it and had no unpleasant sensations. I made entries into the logbook, reported, worked with the telegraph key. When I had meals, I also had water. I let the writing pad out of my hands and it floated together with the pencil in front of me. Then, when I had to write the next report, I took the pad, but the pencil wasn't where it had been. It had flown off somewhere. The eye was secured to the pencil with a screw, but obviously they should have used glue or secured the pencil more tightly. The screw got loose and flew away. I closed up the journal and put it in my pocket. It wouldn't be any good anyway, because I had nothing to write with" (quoted by Siddiqi, Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race: 1945-1974 (2000) 278).

A minor detail mentioned in this quote is that Gagarin communicated with earth by radio, using a telegraph key, rather than by voice. His call sign was Kedr (Siberian Pine, Russian: Кедр).

Timeline Themes