On this day, 55 years back, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to step in space. A Vostok 1 spacecraft lifted off into space from a Soviet launchpad early in the morning carrying Gagarin.
He spent 108 minutes in the tiny capsule, to orbit the earth completely before returning back on Soviet land. Gagarin, a carpenter’s son became one of the 20th century’s biggest names. Upon his return to Earth, the Soviet cosmonaut became an international hero. His mission to space was groundbreaking and raised the stakes in the competition between the Soviet Union and the United States to advance space exploration.
The former space veteran didn’t live long enough to see the hundreds of people who would eventually follow his footsteps and take the journey to space. Gagarin, a husband and father of two, died in a plane crash in 1968.