Russia celebrates Cosmonautics Day

The initiative to designate this memorial day came from the second astronaut on planet Earth, also a pilot-cosmonaut from the former Soviet Union, German Titov.

Likewise, April 12 is International Manned Spaceflight Day (declared by the United Nations General Assembly on April 7, 2011 to “commemorate the beginning of the Space Age for humanity”).

On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first human to travel into space. The Vostok spacecraft took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome (Kazakhstan), returned to Earth and landed successfully in the Saratov region of Russia.

His flight took 108 minutes. Upon takeoff, Gagarin uttered the typically Russian phrase Payéjali (Let's go), which later became famous. For his achievement he was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

At the end of April 1961, Gagarin traveled abroad on a “peace mission.” For three years, he visited thirty countries, including Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Finland, Great Britain, Poland, Cuba, Brazil, Canada, Hungary, India, Egypt, Austria, Japan, France, Mexico, the German Democratic Republic, Sweden and Norway, among others.

After his historic flight, Gagarin continued to work at the Cosmonaut Training Center. Beginning in May 1961, he was astronaut team leader and senior astronaut trainer, later serving as deputy chief of the Training Center for Spaceflight Training.

He was the replacement astronaut for Vladimir Komarov, who died on April 24, 1967, when he returned from orbit after a test flight on the Soyuz-1 spacecraft. However, Yuri Gagarin was unable to go into space again.

The first cosmonaut died on March 27, 1968 during a flight on a MiG-15UTI training fighter with flight instructor Vladimir Seregin.

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