Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin World History Russian Studies Biographies Famous Historical Events Famous People Social Studies Aviation & Space Exploration STEM

Yuri Gagarin was the first person in the world to attempt a flight in space.  No one could be sure about the success of his mission after he lifted-off on the 12th of April, 1961.

Knowing he faced uncertainty, in the space flight, Yuri issued this message before his departure:

Dear friends, both known and unknown to me, fellow Russians, and people of all countries and continents, in a few minutes a mighty spaceship will carry me into the far-away expanses of space. What can I say to you in these last minutes before the start? 

At this instant, the whole of my life seems to be condensed into one wonderful moment. Everything I have experienced and done till now has been in preparation for this moment. You must realize that it is hard to express my feeling now that the test for which we have been training long and passionately is at hand.

I don't have to tell you what I felt when it was suggested that I should make this flight, the first in history. Was it joy? No, it was something more than that. Pride? No, it was not just pride. I felt great happiness. To be the first to enter the cosmos, to engage single handed in an unprecedented duel with nature - could anyone dream of anything greater than that?

But immediately after that I thought of the tremendous responsibility I bore: to be the first to do what generations of people had dreamed of; to be the first to pave the way into space for mankind. This responsibility is not toward one person, not toward a few dozen, not toward a group. It is a responsibility toward all mankind - toward its present and its future.

Am I happy as I set off on this space flight? Of course I'm happy. After all, in all times and epochs the greatest happiness for man has been to take part in new discoveries.

It is a matter of minutes now before the start. I say to you, 'Until we meet again,' dear friends, just as people say to each other when setting out on a long journey. I would like very much to embrace you all, people known and unknown to me, close friends and strangers alike. See you soon!

Gagarin returned safely from his single-orbit mission.  Seven years later, however, he did not return when the jet he was testing crashed on March 27, 1968.  Yuri was 34 years old.

A crater on the Moon is named after Gagarin.

Media Credits

Photo of Yuri Gagarin, online courtesy The Russian State Archive of Scientific & Technical Documents.

Passage quoting Gagarin's message, prior to his space flight, also online courtesy The Russian State Archive of Scientific & Technical Documents.


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"Yuri Gagarin" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Dec 10, 2019.
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