The First Man in Space

PHOTO by RIA Novosti

Russia's Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, would have celebrated his 83rd birthday on March 9.

On Apr. 12, 1961, Gagarin went on his first flight around Earth, spending a total of 108 minutes in space. This event was a major milestone in mankind’s collective history and Gagarin returned to Earth a celebrity. However, some things were not made public in 1961; the location of the launch and the rocket that carried Gagarin into space were classified.

“Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is,” Gagarin wrote of his journey. “People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it!” Seven years after his spaceflight, the cosmonaut died in a plane crash near the village of Novoselovo in the Vladimir region while test flying a MiG-15 UTI.