50 years ago, April 12, 1961, in the Cold War, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first man to fly in space, and thus took part in the first manned space flight in history.
Aboard Vostok 1, Yuri Gagarin completes one revolution around the Earth in one hour and forty-eight minutes, at an altitude ranging between 175 and 380 km. Two minutes after take-off he says: “I see Earth. it’s beautiful!”
Back on Earth, Gagarin visited dozens of countries, is received as a hero and met thousands of people. It’s a real blessing for the USSR, whose image began to tarnish. In August 1961 construction began on the Berlin Wall by East German communist regime, then in October 1962, the crisis of Soviet missiles in Cuba puts the world on the brink of war.
Gagarin died in 1968 when his plane crashed during a training session. A few days ago, Russia has declassified documents relating to the incident and Gagarin was killed by pilot error, after a sudden maneuver designed to avoid an atmospheric probe.
But the space adventure was only beginning. A little over a month after Gagarin’s flight in May 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced to Congress an ambitious space program. In September he declared in his speech “We choose to go to the Moon”.
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do other things, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and our expertise, because it is a challenge we are prepared to meet, we do not want to postpone, and we intend to win, and the others”.
Eight years later, July 20, 1969, pari view: American Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.