2. Search "Gagarin" on www.sciencephoto.com
3. Search "Soyuz TMA-21" on www.nasa.gov
Yuri Gagarin dared to risk his life in space flight
The Soyuz TMA-21 rocket was successfully launched on 5 April 2011 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying Expedition 27 Soyuz Commander Alexander Samokutyaev, NASA Flight Engineer Ron Garan, and Russian Flight Engineer Andrey Borisenko to the International Space Station. The Soyuz, which is being called "Gagarin", lifted off one week before the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight of Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin from the same launch pad on 12 April 1961.
Half a century later and two decades after the end of the Cold War, Russia and America are collaborating to explore space. Humanity needs to be, and is becoming, far more internationalist in outlook and action.
However there needs to be more of a concerted effort to gain easier, regular, and high volume access to space. After the retirement of the American Space Shuttle in 2011, Soyuz is the only means of access to the International Space Station. Better technology is needed today.
There is good information available on www.astronautix.com, with European Space Agency features about manned space flight on:
Thanks to the images made publicly available by the S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, (1) by the Science Photo Library, (2) and by NASA, (3) the pictures tell the story...
Soyuz Expedition 27 crew members from the top, Russian Flight Engineer Andrey Borisenko, NASA Flight Engineer Ron Garan, and Soyuz Commander Alexander Samokutyaev get ready to launch
Soyuz TMA-21 rocket ready for launch
Soyuz TMA-21 rocket lifts off, 5 April 2011
Yuri Gagarin before the launch of Vostok 1 in April 1961, 50 years earlier, and in the middle of the Cold War
Vostok 1 elevating for launch
Yuri Gagarin, ready for launch
Vostok 1 lifts off, 12 April 1961
Yuri Gagarin, born in 1934, photographed in 1950 as a teenager. He graduated from the Saratov Aeroclub Aerotechnical School in 1955, and Voroshilov First Chkalovsk Military Fighter School in 1957. Gagarin served in fighter units with the Northern Fleet.
Having shown ability in flying Yak and MiG aircraft he was selected in 1959 to train among the first Soviet cosmonauts.
Yuri Gagarin became the first human to fly in space on 12 April 1961 in the Vostok rocket, which predates the Soyuz series. The Soyuz was designed in 1962 for rendezvous and docking operations in near earth orbit, leading to piloted circumlunar flight. Versions remained in production. The first flight of the American Space Shuttle Columbia was on 12 April 1981. Mission STS-1 opened the "Shuttle Era", which lasted for 30 years. After retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, Soyuz is currently the only means of access to the International Space Station
Yuri Gagarin dared to risk his life to be the first human to fly in space, as Soviet Russia pushed forward in the "Space Race". He had orbited 200 miles from Earth. Gagarin saw two dawns in the same day. He saw the sun and the stars bright in the sky. He ate and drank from food tubes, and could float, being weightless
Looking out of Vostok 1 he said; 'I see Earth... It is so beautiful'
His one orbit mission in Vostok 1 lasted 1 hour and 48 minutes, and at 23,000 feet he successfully ejected from his spacecraft
The spherical one man Vostok descent module was 2.3 metres in diameter, and was not designed to return with Gagarin inside
Sputnik translates into English as "Satellite". On 4 October 1957 imagination became reality with the launch of Sputnik. Humanity entered the Space Age, and the "Space Race" meant that both Soviet Russia and the United States of America pushed their Cold War prestige by setting new records in space exploration.
Yuri Gagarin and Sputnik designer Sergei Pavlovich Korolev in Moscow 15 September 1961. Korolev died in 1966
Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova flew in June 1963 to be the first woman in space. From 1962 Gagarin had supervised the training of five women cosmonauts, including Tereshkova
Yuri Gagarin with his wife Valentina Goryacheva and daughter Galya enjoying a holiday in the Crimea in the 1960s.
The couple had another, older daughter, Yelena. He was Hero of the Soviet Union Number 11,175, and internationally popular
Yuri Gagarin lived a hero, and died when his MiG aircraft crashed on 27 March 1968 while requalifying for flight status. He had to requalify. He had been grounded in 1967 when the nervous administration considered he was too important to risk losing in a flight accident. Gagarin never saw Neil Armstrong's first walk on the Moon, during the Apollo 11 mission on 20 July 1969.
Gagarin would have appreciated the human achievement
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