The date was April 12th, 1961 and Gagarin made history as the first human to travel into space. His vessel, the Vostok 3KA-2 (also known as Vostok 1) carried him into the place he only dreamed of as a young boy. What was he doing during this famous flight? Well, one of the things he is known for doing is whistling the common Russian tune of “The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows.” This patriotic song is one of the significant aspects of Gagarin’s flight into space.
Another important event that took place while Gagarin was in space was his promotion of Senior Lieutenant to Major. Announcements regarding his victorious journey into space followed him during the flight. The entire flight lasted a total of 1 hour and 48 minutes.
After his safe return on solid ground, Gagarin met up with Nikita Khrushchev, where the young astronaut issued a statement giving praise to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was Khrushchev’s desire to use this momentous occasion as a way to push for the acceptance of his policy regarding the Soviet Union’s strides towards missile forces. As a side note, this policy would later be the downfall of Khrushchev, who was opposed by the Soviet military.
After the flight, Gagarin instantly received media attention and became a worldwide figure, who began to tour many international venues, including Canada, Japan, Italy, and Germany. His duty was to further promote the depth of this significant Soviet accomplishment. In 1962, Gagarin became a deputy for the Supreme Soviet, later returning to his astronomy roots, where he worked on design plans for a reusable spacecraft.
As a deputy training director of Star City, Gagarin wished to requalify as a fighter pilot. Unfortunately, this remarkable figure in the world of space exploration died with his instructor in a MiG-15UTI during a basic training flight that took place close to Kirzhach. To this day, the exact cause of the crash is unknown, although some theories suggest turbulence may have influenced Gagarin’s plane to spin out of his control. At the time, weather conditions were also unfavorable, which may have affected Gagarin and his instructor’s capacity to correct any error before they crashed.
In his honor, a memorial was erected at the crash site and two commemorative Soviet Union coins were issued on the 20th and 30th anniversaries of his very important flight into space. Gagarin’s body was placed next to his instructor within the walls of the Kremlin (located on Red Square).
Since his death, many theories have continued to surface. Some believe an inefficiently secured cargo door may have opened during his flight, causing the plane to become unmanageable. The mystery surrounding his death has even created an interest in reopening the case concerning his death. Many officials are opposed to digging any deeper, citing there is no reason to further investigate the issue.