The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition)
Russia celebrates 60th anniversary of historic first human space flight
Russians are commemorating the achievements of Yuri Gagarin, the cosmonaut who became the first person in space 60 years ago.
Gagarin’s 108-minute mission on April 12, 1961, took the space age to a new level and marked a historic achievement for the then Soviet Union, which beat the United States in a tight race to launch a man beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
For the Soviet people, Gagarin’s space flight was a triumph comparable to the victory over the Germans in the Second World War.
It has remained a source of national pride in Russia ever since, a symbol of the country’s bravery and technological prowess.
Gagarin died in a training jet plane crash just seven years after he orbited the planet, but the first monuments glorifying him and his
pioneering achievement were erected while he was still alive.
He was buried near the Kremlin Wall alongside former Soviet leaders.
The field near Moscow where his plane crashed also has a memorial.
Other Gagarin monuments include a statue in Star City, home to the space flight training centre just outside the
capital where Gagarin and many other cosmonauts lived.
A statue of Gagarin also marks the Baikonur space launch facility, the place he blasted off from in then Soviet Kazakhstan.
A field near the Volga River where Gagarin landed after his historic 1961 flight bears an obelisk, and a Gagarin statue added later.