First human in the Space on 12 April 1961

On 12 April 1961, the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1) spacecraft with Gagarin aboard was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Gagarin thus became both the first human to travel into space, and the first to orbit the Earth. His call sign was Kedr (Russian: Кедр, Siberian pine or Cedar).

Yuri Gagarin

Picture: Time Covers – The 60S, Boris Chaliapin, from the Life.com collection

The radio communication between the launch control room and Gagarin included the following dialogue at the moment of rocket launch:

  • Korolev: “Preliminary stage….. intermediate….. main….. lift off! We wish you a good flight. Everything is all right.”
  • Gagarin: “Поехали!” (Poyekhali!—Let’s go!).

Gagarin’s informal poyekhali! became a historical phrase in the Eastern Bloc, used to refer to the beginning of the Space Age in human history.

In his post-flight report, Gagarin recalled his experience of spaceflight, having been the first human in space:

  • The feeling of weightlessness was somewhat unfamiliar compared with Earth conditions. Here, you feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended.

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