50 Years of manned spaceflight


The year 1961 recognises mankinds first achievement of successfully sending a man into space. Cosmonaut services pilot Yuri Gagarin the  favoured candidate out of a possible 20 stepped on board his Russian Vostok 3KA rocket that would see him become the first man in space. The Americans decision to test trial an earlier space flight using a monkey enabled Russia to take the lead over them.

Gagarin was a supremely focused athletic individual who was prepared to risk his life for his country. The odds were almost certainly not to favourable for him. He recorded these words in his post flight report ” The feeling of weightlessness was unfamiliar compared with Earth. Here you feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended”

We know that his spaceflight consisted of a single orbit of the Earth with official records telling us the spaceflight took 108 minutes from launch to landing.  It was part of the mission that Gagarin would land separately from his spacecraft by ejecting with a parachute 7 km (23,000 ft) above ground. Gagarin was in the spacecraft for 108 minutes after launch, and that he didn’t touch ground for another 10 minutes. These statistics are essential in proving that Gagarin completed a full 360-degree orbit in inertial space. The longitude of launch to landing spanned a little more than 340 degrees, but the Earth also was rotating underneath him at about 15 degrees per hour while Gagarin was aloft. This historic flight catapulted him to fame and National hero status, immortalised after tragically being killed flying a Russian MIG fighter aircraft in 1968.

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