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|COLONEL YURI GAGARIN|
Born: March 9, 1934 in Klushino / Smolensk Oblast / Russia
Died: March 27, 1968 in Novoselovo / Vladimir Oblast / Russia
Colonel Yuri A. Gagarin was born on a collective farm in
a region west of Moscow, Russia on March 9, 1934. His father was a carpenter.
Yuri attended the local school for six years and continued his education at
vocational and technical schools.
Yuri Gagarin joined the Russian Air Force in 1955 and
graduated with honors from the Soviet Air Force Academy in 1957. Soon afterward,
he became a military fighter pilot. By 1959, he had been selected for cosmonaut
training as part of the first group of USSR cosmonauts.
Yuri Gagarin flew only one space mission. On April 12,
1961 he became the first human to orbit Earth. Gagarin's spacecraft, Vostok 1,
circled Earth at a speed of 27,400 kilometers per hour. The flight lasted 108
minutes. At the highest point, Gagarin was about 327 kilometers above Earth.
Once in orbit, Yuri Gagarin had no control over his
spacecraft. Vostok's reentry was controlled by a computer program sending radio
commands to the space capsule. Although the controls were locked, a key had been
placed in a sealed envelope in case an emergency situation made it necessary for
Gagarin to take control. As was planned, Cosmonaut Gagarin ejected after reentry
into Earth's atmosphere and landed by parachute.
Colonel Yuri Gagarin died on March 27, 1968 when the
MiG-15 he was piloting crashed near Moscow. At the time of his death, Yuri
Gagarin was in training for a second space mission.