Soviet cosmonaut who on 12 April 1961 became the first human in space, aboard the spacecraft Vostok 1 (see Vostok). He completed one orbit of the Earth, taking 108 minutes from launch to landing. He died in a plane crash while training for the Soyuz 3 mission.
Born near Gzhatsk in the Smolensk region in the former USSR, Gagarin became a Soviet Air Force pilot and parachutist in 1957. He was named a ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ and became an international spokesperson for his nation's space programme. The Russian space station Salyut (Russian ‘Salute’) was named to honour his memory.
Gagarin, Yuri, in crowd