History of Flight - THE FIRST MAN & WOMAN IN SPACE

THE FIRST MAN & WOMAN IN SPACE (Illustration) Russian Studies Biographies Famous Historical Events Famous People Film History Social Studies STEM Tragedies and Triumphs Aviation & Space Exploration

In this image we see the world’s first man in space (Yuri Gagarin) and the world’s first woman in space (Valentina Tereshkova). Both cosmonauts were from the Soviet Union.  Photo by Roscosmos.


Everyone was anxious for people (not just satellites) to fly in space. Russia and the U.S. first sent up several monkeys (this link takes you to a photo of Sam). Experts needed to determine the effects of space travel on mammals. What, for example, was it like to be weightless? Some of the monkeys lived; others did not. (Sam did.)

Yuri Gagarin, a 27-year-old Russian, was the first person to fly in space. Although his flight on April 12, 1961 was only one orbit around the Earth, it was a huge accomplishment.

Gagarin flew in Vostok and followed specific written procedures for launch, orbit and descent. (Follow the link to view a copy of his original flight plan.) During training exercises for his flight, Gagarin wore a pressure suit. (Follow this link to see it.)

A hero of the Soviet Union, Gagarin was honored after his flight (the link takes you to historical film footage).  He received the ultimate honor, at age 34, following his death in a plane crash:  His ashes were buried inside the Kremlin Wall, in Red Square.

The Russians also sent the first woman into space (Valentina Tereshkova) and the first person to venture outside an orbiting space capsule (Aleksei Leonov).

Tethered to an airlock, Leonov "walked" outside his orbiting spacecraft on March 18, 1965. He almost died while doing it. His space suit inflated more than expected and Leonov became too large to re-enter the airlock. He had to vent some of the pressure in the suit in order to get back in.

With such an impressive string of firsts achieved by the Soviet team, it appeared they would, indeed, be first to reach the moon. But a race is never decided after the first lap.

The United States was getting positioned to catch up with, and then pass, the U.S.S.R.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Feb 23, 2017

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"THE FIRST MAN & WOMAN IN SPACE" AwesomeStories.com. Nov 01, 2002. Jun 04, 2020.
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