With an enthusiastic "Поехали!" (Let's go!), Yuri Gagarin launched Vostok 1 from Kazakhstan to become the first man to orbit space fifty years ago today, on April 12, 1961.
Once up in space,orbiting the earth at 17,000 miles an hour, he whistled a Soviet tune over the radio - “The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky.”
Today is День Космотавтики (dyen kosmatovtiki), Cosmonaut's Day, here in Russia. In celebration of this momentuous event in history, First Orbit has put together an English-language movie that is available on Youtube. Unfortunately I am still extremely technologically-impaired and I have no idea how to upload videos onto my blog. So all I can do is point you in the right direction (check it out here) and STRONGLY suggest that you watch at least the first few minutes. It starts off with Gagarin's original speech before take-off, coupled with black and white photographs of different moments of his life. It is VERY moving and the musical score is incredible.
After successfully orbiting the earth on a 108-minute space flight, the 27 year old son of a carpenter reflected, “Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us
preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it.” Very wise words.
Happy Cosmonaut's Day!
(Gagarin's quote in Russian: Облетев Землю в корабле-спутнике, я увидел, как прекрасна наша планета. Люди, будем хранить и приумножать эту красоту, а не разрушать её!)