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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Google Doodle marks anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's space flight

Yuri Gagarin: 50th anniversary of the first Human Spaceflight


Heavens above: The Yuri Gagarin Google Doodle

Yuri Gagarin

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Yuri Gagarin
Юрий Гагарин
Gagarin Signature.svg
Soviet Union cosmonaut
The first human in space
Nationality Russian Soviet Union
Born 9 March 1934(1934-03-09)
Klushino, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died 27 March 1968(1968-03-27) (aged 34)
Novosyolovo, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Other occupation Pilot
Rank Colonel (Polkovnik), Soviet Air Forces
Time in space 1 hour, 48 minutes
Selection Air Force Group 1
Missions Vostok 1
Mission insignia Vostok-1 patch.svg

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (Russian: Ю́рий Алексе́евич Гага́рин,[1] Russian pronunciation: [ˈjurʲɪj ɐlʲɪˈksʲeɪvʲɪtɕ ɡɐˈɡarʲɪn]; 9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961.

Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and honours, including Hero of the Soviet Union. Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup to the Soyuz 1 mission (which ended in a fatal crash). Gagarin later became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, which was later named after him. Gagarin died in 1968 when a Mig 15 training jet he was piloting crashed.

Early life

Gagarin was born in the village of Klushino near Gzhatsk (now in Smolensk Oblast, Russia), on 9 March 1934.[2] The adjacent town of Gzhatsk was renamed Gagarin in 1968 in his honour. His parents, Alexey Ivanovich Gagarin and Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina, worked on a collective farm.[3] While manual labourers are described in official reports as "peasants", this may be an oversimplification if applied to his parents — his mother was reportedly a voracious reader, and his father a skilled carpenter. Yuri was the third of four children, and his elder sister helped raise him while his parents worked. Like millions of people in the Soviet Union, the Gagarin family suffered during Nazi occupation in World War II. After a German officer took over their house, the family constructed a small mud hut where they spent a year and nine months until the end of the occupation.[4] His two older siblings were deported to Nazi Germany for slave labour in 1943, and did not return until after the war. In 1946, the family moved to Gzahtsk.[4]

Career in the Soviet Air Force

While a youth, Yuri became interested in space and planets.[5] After studying for one year at a vocational technical school in Lyubertsy, Gagarin was selected for further training at a technical high school in Saratov. While there, he joined the "AeroClub", and learned to fly a light aircraft, a hobby that would take up an increasing portion of his time.

In 1955, after completing his technical schooling, he entered military flight training at the Orenburg Pilot's School. While there he met Valentina Goryacheva, whom he married in 1957, after gaining his pilot's wings in a MiG-15. Post-graduation, he was assigned to Luostari airbase in Murmansk Oblast, close to the Norwegian border, where terrible weather made flying risky. He became a Lieutenant in the Soviet Air Force on 5 November 1957 and on 6 November 1959 he received the rank of Senior Lieutenant.[6]

Career in the Soviet space program

Selection and training

In 1960, after the search and selection process, Yuri Gagarin was chosen with 19 other pilots for the Soviet space program. Gagarin was further selected for an elite training group known as the Sochi Six from which the first cosmonauts of the Vostok programme would be chosen. Gagarin and other prospective cosmonauts were subjected to experiments designed to test physical and psychological endurance; he also underwent training for the upcoming flight. Out of the twenty selected, the eventual choices for the first launch were Gagarin and Gherman Titov because of their performance in training, as well as their physical characteristics — space was at a premium in the small Vostok cockpit and both men were rather short. Gagarin was 1.57 metres (5 ft 2 in) tall, which was an advantage in the small Vostok cockpit.[3]

In August 1960, when Gagarin was one of 20 possible candidates, an Air Force doctor evaluated his personality as follows:

Modest; embarrasses when his humor gets a little too racy; high degree of intellectual development evident in Yuriy; fantastic memory; distinguishes himself from his colleagues by his sharp and far-ranging sense of attention to his surroundings; a well-developed imagination; quick reactions; persevering, prepares himself painstakingly for his activities and training exercises, handles celestial mechanics and mathematical formulae with ease as well as excels in higher mathematics; does not feel constrained when he has to defend his point of view if he considers himself right; appears that he understands life better than a lot of his friends.
—Soviet Air Force doctor, [7]

Gagarin was also a favoured candidate by his peers. When the 20 candidates were asked to anonymously vote for which other candidate they would like to see as the first to fly, all but three chose Gagarin.[8] One of these candidates, Yevgeny Khrunov, believed that Gagarin was very focused, and was demanding of himself and others when necessary.[9]

Gagarin kept physically fit throughout his life, and was a keen sportsman. Cosmonaut Valery Bykovsky wrote:

Service in the Air Force made us strong, both physically and morally. All of us cosmonauts took up sports and PT seriously when we served in the Air Force. I know that Yuri Gagarin was fond of ice hockey. He liked to play goal keeper... I don't think I am wrong when I say that sports became a fixture in the life of the cosmonauts.[10]

In addition to being a keen ice hockey player, Gagarin was also a basketball fan, and coached the Saratov Industrial Technical School team, as well as being an umpire/referee.[11]

Space flight


Vostok I capsule used by Yuri Gagarin, now on display at the RKK Energiya Museum outside of Moscow.

On 12 April 1961, aboard the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1), Gagarin became both the first human to travel into space, and the first to orbit the earth. His call sign was Kedr (Siberian Pine, Russian: Кедр).[12]

In his post-flight report, Gagarin recalled his experience of spaceflight, having been the first human in space:

The feeling of weightlessness was somewhat unfamiliar compared with Earth conditions. Here, you feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended.[13]

Following the flight, Gagarin told the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that during reentry he had whistled the tune "The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows" (Russian: "Родина слышит, Родина знает").[14][15] The first two lines of the song are: "The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky".[16] This patriotic song was written by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1951 (opus 86), with words by Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky.

After the flight, some sources claimed that Gagarin, during his space flight, had made the comment, "I don't see any God up here." However, no such words appear in the verbatim record of Gagarin's conversations with Earth-based stations during the spaceflight.[17] In a 2006 interview a close friend of Gagarin, Colonel Valentin Petrov, stated that Gagarin never said such words, and that the phrase originated from Nikita Khrushchev's speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, where the anti-religious propaganda was discussed. In a certain context Khrushchev said, "Gagarin flew into space, but didn't see any god there".[18] Colonel Petrov also said that Gagarin had been baptised into the Orthodox Church as a child. It is also known that Gagarin has said the following words: "Someone who never met God on Earth, would never meet Him in space"[citation needed]. In 2011, Foma magazine quoted the rector of the Orthodox church in Zvyozdny Gorodok (Star City) saying, “Gagarin baptized his elder daughter Yelena shortly before his space flight; and his family used to celebrate Christmas and Easter and keep icons in the house." [19]

Rise to fame


A postcard with an image of Yuri Gagarin

After the flight, Gagarin became a worldwide celebrity, touring widely abroad. He visited Italy, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Japan and Finland to promote the Soviet Union of being the first country to put a human in space. He also visited the United Kingdom three months after the Vostok 1 success, during which he visited the cities of London and Manchester, the latter of which has been fondly remembered.[20][21]

Life after Vostok 1

In 1962, he began serving as a deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. He later returned to Star City, the cosmonaut facility, where he spent seven years working on designs for a reusable spacecraft. He 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.[6] 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.

Gagarin had become deputy training director of the Star City cosmonaut training base. At the same time, he began to re-qualify as a fighter pilot.

Death


Monument of Yuri Gagarin on Cosmonauts Alley in Moscow

On 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base, he and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died in a MiG-15UTI crash near the town of Kirzhach. The bodies of Gagarin and Seryogin were cremated and the ashes were buried in the walls of the Kremlin on Red Square.

Cause of jet crash

The cause of the crash that killed Gagarin is not entirely certain, and has been subject to speculation and conspiracy theories over the ensuing decades.

Russian documents declassified in March 2003 showed that the KGB had conducted their own investigation of the accident, in addition to one government and two military investigations. The KGB's report dismissed various conspiracy theories, instead indicating that the actions of air base personnel contributed to the crash. The report states that an air traffic controller provided Gagarin with outdated weather information, and that by the time of his flight, conditions had deteriorated significantly. Ground crew also left external fuel tanks attached to the aircraft. Gagarin's planned flight activities needed clear weather and no outboard tanks. The investigation concluded that Gagarin's aircraft entered a spin, either due to a bird strike or because of a sudden move to avoid another aircraft. Because of the out-of-date weather report, the crew believed their altitude to be higher than it actually was, and could not properly react to bring the MiG-15 out of its spin.[22]

In his 2004 book Two Sides of the Moon, Alexey Leonov recounts that he was flying a helicopter in the same area that day when he heard "two loud booms in the distance." Corroborating other theories, his conclusion is that a Sukhoi jet (which he identifies as a Su-15 'Flagon') was flying below its minimum allowed altitude, and "without realizing it because of the terrible weather conditions, he passed within 10 or 20 meters of Yuri and Seregin's plane while breaking the sound barrier." The resulting turbulence would have sent the MiG into an uncontrolled spin. Leonov believes the first boom he heard was that of the jet breaking the sound barrier, and the second was Gagarin's plane crashing.[23]

Another theory, advanced by the original crash investigator in 2005, hypothesizes that a cabin air vent was accidentally left open by the crew or the previous pilot, leading to oxygen deprivation and leaving the crew incapable of controlling the aircraft.[24] A similar theory, published in Air & Space magazine, is that the crew detected the open vent and followed procedure by executing a rapid dive to a lower altitude. This dive caused them to lose consciousness and crash.[25]

On 12 April 2007, the Kremlin vetoed a new investigation into the death of Gagarin. Government officials said that they saw no reason to begin a new investigation.[26]

In April 2011, documents from a 1968 commission setup by the Central Committee of the Communist Party to investigate the accident were declassified. Those documents revealed that the commission's original conclusion was that either Gagarin or Seryogin had maneuvered sharply, likely to avoid a weather balloon, leading the jet into a "super-critical flight regime and to its stalling in complex meteorological conditions". The report also suggested the jet may have been maneuvering sharply to avoid "entry into the upper limit of the first layer of cloud cover".[27]

Legacy and tributes

Legacy

Aside from his short stature at 5 ft 2 inches, one of Gagarin's most notable traits was his smile.[28] Many commented on how Gagarin's smile gained the attention of many in the crowd on the frequent tours Gagarin did in the months after the Vostok 1 mission success, particularly when he visited Manchester in the United Kingdom.[29] Sergei Korolev, one of the masterminds behind the early years of the Soviet space program later said that Gagarin possessed a smile "that lit up the Cold War".[30]

Tributes


Russian Rouble commemorating Gagarin in 2001

There were two commemorative coins issued in the Soviet Union to commemorate 20th and 30th anniversaries of his flight: 1 ruble coin (1981, copper-nickel) and 3 ruble coin (1991, silver). In 2001, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Gagarin's flight, a series of four coins bearing his likeness was issued in Russia: 2 ruble coin (copper-nickel), 3 ruble coin (silver), 10 ruble coin (brass-copper, nickel), and 100 ruble coin (silver).[31]

In 2008, the Kontinental Hockey League named their championship trophy the Gagarin Cup.[32]

In a 2010 Space Foundation survey, Gagarin was ranked as the #6 most popular space hero, tied with Star Trek's fictional Capt. James T. Kirk.[33]

In January 2011, Armenian airline Armavia named their first Sukhoi Superjet 100 in Gagarin's honour.[34]

From 14 July 2010 to 14 July 2011, a copy of the statue of Gagarin from outside his former school in Lyubertsy has been installed at the Admiralty Arch end of The Mall in London, opposite the permanent sculpture of James Cook.[35]

50th anniversary tributes

A series of tributes around the world coincided with 12 April 2011, the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's journey into outer space.

A film entitled First Orbit was created to mark the 50th anniversary. Footage was shot from the International Space Station, with engineers calculating that every six weeks the ISS crew would get good opportunity to film over the same ground at the same time of day as Gagarin did. The film would be made more authentic by combining the original flight audio to the footage filmed.[36]

On 12 April 2011, Google celebrated Gagarin's feat with a Google Doodle on its global homepage.[37]

Expedition 27 crew aboard the International Space Station sent a special video message to the world to wish them a Happy Yuri's Night on the occasion of the 50th anniversary. The crew, including Commander Dmitry Kondratyev, Flight Engineers Andrey Borisenko, Catherine 'Cady' Coleman, Alexander Samokutyaev, Paolo Nespoli and Ron Garan recorded their greetings in Russian, English and Italian while wearing black Gagarin T-shirts

source : Wikipedia

Space heroes: Yuri Gagarin first man in outer space 1st photo

yuri-gagarin



Gagarin's Soviet Vostok-1 spaceship blasts off in Kazakhstan in 1961 (Picture: AFP/Getty) Gagarin's Soviet Vostok-1 spaceship blasts off in Kazakhstan in 1961 (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Having a blast-off: Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin inside the Vostok 1 command capsule (Picture: AFP/Getty)

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