Human Space Flight Day: Remembering Gagarin's flight 54 years ago

  • Vignesh Radhakrishnan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 12, 2015 17:15 IST

On this day, fifty-four years ago, a man called Yuri Gagarin became the first person in the world to fly into space.

Gagarin, a Soviet cosmonaut, boarded the Vostok 1 – the first human spaceflight in history—and spent 108 minutes orbiting the Earth.

To commemorate the day, the United Nations General Assembly has declared April 12 as the International Day of Human Space Flight.

The UN body did so "to celebrate each year at the international level the beginning of the space era for mankind, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples, as well as ensuring the realization of their aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes."

Here is a short video of Gagarin boarding the Vostok 1 and taking off for space.


In the last radio communication before blasting off into space, Gagarin informally uttered "Poyekhali!" (Let's go) in response to the launch control room's final instructions. The phrase is often considered as the first words of the space age.

Yuri Gagarin saying "Poyekhali" was recorded and archived. Here is the two-second audio clip of Gagarin uttering the word.

According to United Nations website, on April 12, 2011, the UN Postal Administration (UNPA) issued three stamps of denominations $0.44, CHF 0.50 and € 0.35 in a mini-sheet format of sixteen stamps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of human space flight.

Here are some photographs of Gagarin taken before and after the historic mission.

Soviet cosmonaut Major Yuri Gagarin, first cosmonaut in history, poses on the beach of Glasma with his wife Valentina and daughter Jelena in June 1960.

Photo taken in 1961 in the Soviet Union. The first man in space Yuri Gagarin is signing autographs.AFP PHOTO

This 12 April, 1961 file photo shows Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin in the Vostok 1 command capsule. Gagarin became the first man in space. Gagarin orbited earth one time at an altitude of 187 3/4 miles (302 kilometers) for 108 minutes at 18,000 miles an hour. AFP PHOTO

Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to travel into space, hits the headline of the US paper "The Huntsville Times" on April 12, 1961 after orbiting Earth aboard the Vostok I spaceship. AFP PHOTO

People gather on the Red Square, on April 14 1961, to celebrate the flight of Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human to travel in space aboard Vostok I and the first to orbit the Earth. Yuri Gagarin died in a plane crash on a MIG-15 on a routine training flight, on March 27, 1968. AFP PHOTO

Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, 29, (1934-68) and cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space, wave to well-wishers somewhere in Soviet Union in 1963. Gagarin became in 1961 the first man to travel in space, orbiting Earth, Tereshkova was the sole crew member of the 3-day Vostok 6 spaceship flight 16 June 1963. AFP Photo

Undated portrait of the first world's cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Soviet Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel in space aboard Vostok I and the first to orbit the Earth, 12 April 1961. He died in a plane crash on a MIG-15 on a routine training flight, 27 March 1968. He was given a state funeral and was buried in the Kremlin wall facing Red Square. AFP Photo

Members of the presidium, including Leonid Ilich Brezhnev (R), General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin (L, first row) carry the coffin of first cosmonaut ever Colonel Yuri Gagarin in Moscow in a photo dated 02 April 1968. . He died 27 March 1968 in a MiG-15UTI on a routine training flight. AFP Photo

A 70-meter high monument to Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, at the Gagarin Square in Moscow. AFP PHOTO

US NASA astronaut Steven Swanson lays flowers by the grave of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, at the Kremlin wall in Red Square in Moscow in Moscow. AFP PHOTO

Russian comosnaut Yuri Gagarin's daughter Elena Gagarina poses next to a sculpture featuring her father after the World premiere screening of the 108-minute documentary film "Gagarin First in Space" about Yuri Gagarin, on May 13, 2013 at the UN headquarters in Vienna.AFP PHOTO

Monument to Anna Gagarina, the mother of the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in the town of Gagarin (formerly Gzhatsk) in front of their family house, early 10 April 2001, preparing for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first space flight 12 April 1961. Anna Gagarina is pictured sitting on a bench, waiting for her son. AFP photo

Edited by : Abhishek Saha ( | Written by : Vignesh Radhakrishnan (

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