Cosmonautics Day or International Day of Human Space Flight is celebrated on April 12 annually. Exactly this day, in 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first person in the world, who completed one orbit of the Earth. The lunar exploration has not finished at this point: the spacewalks, the mission to the moon took place, while the active study of Mars takes place now.
Who is Yuri Gagarin?
Yuri Gagarin was born on March 9, 1934 in the village of Klushino in the Western Region of the RSFSR (now the Smolensk Region).
- In August 1951 he entered the foundry department of the Saratov Industrial College.
- In October 1954 he first came to the Saratov DOSAAF Aero Club of the USSR.
- In 1955 he made his first independent flight on a Yak-18 aircraft.
- In total, the aero club performed 196 flights and flew 42 hours 23 minutes.
- In October 1957 he graduated from the 1st Military Aviation School of Pilots named after V.I. Voroshilov.
- In December 1959, he wrote a report with a request to enroll him in the group of astronaut candidates (recruitment began in May of the same year).
- At the beginning of 1960, it was recognized as suitable for space flights.
- From December 1960 to January 1961, Gagarin and five other candidates were preparing for the first flight into space.
And this is the first fact worth telling in more detail.
Initially, there were 20 applicants. Six of them were selected. In addition to Gagarin, German Titov, Grigory Nelyubov, Andriyan Nikolaev, Pavel Popovich and Valery Bykovsky also participated in the preparation.
Based on the results of the preparation for the flight into space, Gagarin was selected. He had two understudies at once - German Titov and Grigory Nelyubov.
Farewell letter to Gagarin
A few days before the space flight, Gagarin wrote a farewell letter to his wife Valentina and children. Just in case.
The BBC clarifies that the letter was received by Gagarin's wife only seven years later, after the death of her husband in a plane crash.
The text of the letter is as follows:
“Hello, my dear, dearly beloved Valya, Helen and Galochka! I decided to write a few lines for you to share with you and share together the joy and happiness that I had today. Today a government commission decided to send me into space first. You know, dear Valyusha, how glad I am, I want you to be glad together with me. An ordinary person was entrusted with such a big state task - to pave the first road into space! So far I have lived honestly, truthfully, for the benefit of people, although it was small. Once, as a child, I read the words of V. P. Chkalov: "If to be, then to be the first." So I try to be and will be to the end. I want, Valechka, to devote this flight to the people of the new society, communism, into which we are already entering, our great Motherland, our science."
It's about the "space race". At the end of April 1961, the United States was planning a similar launch. Therefore, the Soviet Union decided to rush.
On the eve of the first flight into space, it was unclear how the human body would react to extreme loads. In particular, whether the psyche can handle it.
To minimize the risk, it was decided to conduct the flight in a fully automatic mode. The astronaut could switch to manual control only in the event of a failure of the automation. And then, in a rather "interesting way".
To switch to automation, a secret code was required. Which was sealed in a special envelope and glued next to the astronaut's chair.
Psychologists believed that it was possible to open it only in a sane mind. RBC cites the memoirs of instructor Mark Gallay, according to which the number "125" was hidden in the envelope.
Gagarin did not have to enter the code.
What did Gagarin say during the flight?
At the beginning of the rise of the rocket, Gagarin uttered a phrase that became cruise. It's about the famous Poiekhali! ("Let's Go!")
In orbit, Gagarin reported on his feelings, the state of the ship and observations. He liked the view of the Earth from space, so, in particular, he recorded the following words on the onboard tape recorder:
Gagarin's first medal
After Gagarin's return to Earth, he was presented with his first award - the medal "For the development of virgin lands."
Subsequently, this medal began to be awarded to other astronauts during landing.
An important detail is worth mentioning here. Due to a failure in the braking system, Gagarin landed not where it was originally planned (110 km from Stalingrad). And in the Saratov region, near the city of Engels.
The BBC clarifies that the development of virgin lands, which began in the USSR in 1954, was carried out, in particular, there, in the Volga region.
Gagarin flew to Moscow for a solemn meeting with an aviation escort consisting of seven MiG-17 fighters.
Aircraft with an escort in a solemn formation passed over the center of Moscow, over Red Square, then landed at Vnukovo airport, where Gagarin was expected to receive a grand reception: jubilant people, journalists and operators, the country's leadership.
The plane taxied to the central building of the airport, lowered the ladder, and Gagarin got off the first on it.
Death of Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin died on March 27, 1968 in a plane crash while performing a training flight on a MiG-15UTI aircraft. In total, more than 250 official monuments and busts of Gagarin have been installed in the world.
Cosmonautics Day was established by the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union dated April 9, 1962 in honor of the flight of Yuri Gagarin.
In November 1968, at the congress of the International Federation of Aviation Sports, it was decided to celebrate April 12 as the World Day of Aviation and Astronautics.
Dozens of years later, in April 2011, at a meeting of the UN General Assembly, a resolution was adopted, according to which April 12 was declared the International Day of Human Space Flight.