Yury Gagarin /1934-1968/ was cosmonaut of the Soviet Union, Colonel, Hero of the Soviet Union /1961/, pilot-cosmonaut /1961/. He was the first man to perform a flight into outer space.
Yury Gagarin was born to the family of collective–farmers in the village of Klushino on March 9, 1934. His father was Alexei Gagarin. His mother — Anna Gagarina. There were 4 children in the family—Valentine, Zoya, Yury and Boris. Anna Gagarina kept household chores, and her husband did all man’s work. Parents had no time to spare to their children, therefore the elder sister Zoya looked after her younger brothers.
When a war broke out in 1941 Yury Gagarin was old enough to begin his studies at school. He had a natural bent for learning things and willingly went to school. Yet several months after he began attending school the Nazis entered the village and lessens at school were disrupted. His father, Alexei Gagarin, could not join the army because of the trauma which he got when a child. One of his feet was shorter than the other by several centimeters. He suffered that he could not defend his Homeland arms in hand. Yet he gave all his strength to the work in the collective-farm. He did his job and that of his fellow workers who left for the front. Life became harder and harder. The Nazis forced many villagers to leave their homes and the Gagarins were not an exception. Alexei Gagarin made a dugout in which the family lived for quite a long time. Once a Nazi officer came to their dugout and said that the elder boy, Valentine, who was 15 at that time was old enough to work. He and many other boys of the village were evicted to Germany. Zoya was taken prisoner a bit later. For a long time parents did not know anything about them. In 1943 Valentine escaped and sent a message home saying he stayed to help at the front. He became a tank crew member. Later Zoya also managed to escape. As soon as the war ended in 1945 both young people returned home. The family moved to the town of Gzhatsk, which bears the name of Gagarin today. Yury finished the sixth form at the secondary school there. His parents earned little. His elder brother began working as an electrician. His sister Zoya gave birth to a daughter, Tamara. Yury decided that he should help the family and get professional training as a worker. He believed that later he would be able to continue his studies.
In 1948 Yury Gagarin entered a vocational school in Lyubertsy which trained foundry workers, after a year he began to combine his vocational training with studies at the evening department of a secondary school. It was not easy. He was short of time. Sometimes there was no electricity in his hostel. Yet his bent for knowledge has always been strong. In 1951 he finished the Lyubertsy vocational school with flying colours and got a certificate of merit at the secondary school as a graduate from the 7th form. One of Yury Gagarin’s friends found out that ‘A’ grade pupils can be admitted to secondary specialized technical schools to continue their professional training. The foundry department was at the Saratov specialized technical school. Yury left for Saratov. In summer he worked as a teacher of physical education at a pioneer camp that belonged to an orphanage. Shortly he became involved into an aviation club in Saratov. He wrote to his mother that the aviation club was something you could only dream of. There he performed his first flight.
In 1955 Yury Gagarin graduated with honours from the secondary specialized technical school and was called up. He became a cadet of the 1st Chkalov military aviation school training pilots. Shortly he got acquainted with his would-be wife, Valentina. In 1957 he graduated from that school as ‘A’ grade student. After graduation every ‘A’ grade student had the right to choose the place of his would-be service. The way that Yury chose was not easy. He was sent to the Polar region to serve in the aviation regimen of the North Fleet. Valentina moved there after she graduated from a medical school. In April 1959 their first daughter, Helen, was born. When the first sputnik was launched in 1957 Yury Gagarin began to dream of space flights. He submitted a report to his superiors requesting that he should be included into the list of candidate for space flights. In 1960 he left for Moscow. There was a continuous chain of training sessions. Yury Gagarin was trained together with V.Bykovski, G. Nelyubov, A. Nikolayev, P. Popovich and G. Titov. On March 7, 1961, a second daughter was born to the family.
On April 12, 1961, the spaceship “Vostok” with Yury Gagarin on board took off from the spaceport of Baikonur, he was the first to fly into outer space. He spent in cosmos 108 minutes and safely returned to the Earth. He was awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union.