It was on the 12th of April, 1961, when the first flight by man into cosmic space took place. Yuri Gagarin, the first cosmonaut in the world, was a 27-year old Air Force pilot at that time.
The spaceship flew at the speed of 300 miles a minute. That’s six times faster than man ever travelled before. His flight lasted 108 minutes, but a circuit round the Earth took 89 minutes.
It was a brilliant achievement on the part of our scientists and technologists, and on the part of Yuri Gagarin who risked his life to achieve a victory for his country and mankind.
This is what Yuri Gagarin said at his press conferenc : “On my flight the ‘day’ side of the Earth was clearly seen: the continents, islands, seas, and big rivers. Flying over the land I could clearly see the big squares of fields, and it was possible to distinguish which was meadow and which was forest. I could not see as well as from an airplane, but very, very well though.
I saw for the first time with my own eyes the Earth’s spherical shape. I must say that the view of the horizon is very beautiful. You can see the noticeable change from the light surface of the Earth to trie completely black sky in which you can see the stars. This transition, from light blue to dark, is very gradual and lovely.
I did not see the Moon. In space the sun shines ten times more brightly than on the Earth. The stars can be seen very well.
I felt excellent as I entered space. When weightlessness developed, everything was easier to do. My legs and arms weighed nothing. Objects swam in the cabin. During this state of weightlessness, I ate and drank, and everything was the same as on the Earth. My handwriting did not change, though my hand was weightless. But I had to hold my notebook or it would have floated away.
The passage back from weightlessness to the force of gravity happened smoothly. Arms and legs feel the same as during weightlessness, but now they have weight.
I ceased to be suspended over the chair, then I sat in it.
When I returned to the Earth I was full of joy.”