Yuri Gagarin — a Modern Columbus
April 12, 1961 will never be forgotten. On that day Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was launched into space. He circled the globe in the spaceship «Vostok» for 108 minutes. Gagarin was taking an enormous risk, because at that time nobody knew how a human being would stand up to space flight. Before Yuri Gagarin was launched into outer space he met the people who had prepared the rocket. He thanked them for their work and said he would do everything he could to make his flight successful. Yuri was in great spirits. The cosmonauts spent the evening at a cottage which is now called the Yuri Gagarin Memorial Cottage. Then he had one more normal working day which was worked out to the minute: morning exercises, breakfast, medical examination, putting on the spacesuit, checking the suit, leaving for the launching site and so on.
Yuri Gagarin’s flight opened the door into the Universe Those 108 minutes were a turning-point in history. The dreams of generations, the ideas of science-fiction writers and thinkers were brilliantly realised by our contemporaries. Yuri Gagarin’s name has become a legend, a symbol of heroism in the name of science and progress.
Yuri Gagarin visited 30 countries. Everywhere he was given a fantastic welcome as the dearest person. He was the same modest man with workers or generals, with employees or with kings and prime ministers.
His life was simple like thousands of others: schoolboy, vocational school student, fighter pilot, husband, father of two children. He was a part of our whole life. But the words «Gagarin character» have become a symbol of will-power, fearlessness, purity. Gagarin’s «space» biography began at a lecture about the work of Tsiolkovsky. Then, he fell ill with a disease that has no name in medicine: an irresistible desire to go up into the sky, a desire to fly.
The Saratov Air Club, the Orenburg Air Pilots School, service in Air Force units in the North, and the Cosmonaut Graining Centre in 1960. The dawn of the space age was breaking over the planet.
The first group was made up of strong young men, professional airmen, clever, purposeful, prepared to take risks and work hard. Why did the choice fall on him? Yuri Gagarin», said E. A. Karpov, one of the instructors of the first group of cosmonauts, «possessed all the important qualifications: devoted patriotism, complete faith in the success of the flight, excellent health, optimism, a quick mind, courage and resolution, self-control, orderliness, industriousness, simplicity, modesty, great human warmth and attentiveness to others».
Yuri Gagarin was deeply engaged in public and political activity, but he could not stand aside from training his friends for new flights. He gave all his knowledge and enthusiasm to the preparation for each new flight. He taught others and studied himself. He dreamed of the time when spaceships would undertake interplanetary flights and he would be on board of them. For the sake of this dream Yuri Gagarin worked and lived.
On March 27, 1968, Yuri Gagarin was killed in an air crash. He was 34. On that day we lost a man of remarkable courage and spiritual beauty. It was impossible to say what a man’s life would have been like if he remained alive. Gagarin had talent. He put his whole soul, all his strength into «cosmic work». His name will remain immortal in the history of mankind, in the history of the Earth, which he affectionately called the Blue Planet.