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RUSSIA MARKS THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST SPACE FLIGHT
Russian President Vladimir Putin, holding a reprint of a 1961 newspaper with the first man in space Yuri Gagarin, walks to take part in a live televised hookup with the International Space Station in Kremlin in Moscow, April 12, 2006. Today Russia marks the 45th anniversary of the first space flight by Soviet spaceman Yuri Gagarin.(UPI Photo/Anatoli Zhdanov)
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Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (Russian: Ю́рий Алексе́евич Гага́рин, Russian pronunciation: ; 9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human being to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961.

Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and honours, including Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation's highest honour. Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission (which ended in a fatal crash). Gagarin later became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, which was later named after him. Gagarin died in 1968 when a MiG 15 training jet he was piloting crashed.

Gagarin was born in the village of Klushino near Gzhatsk (now in Smolensk Oblast, Russia), on 9 March 1934. The adjacent town of Gzhatsk was renamed Gagarin in 1968 in his honour. His parents, Alexey Ivanovich Gagarin and Anna Timofeyevna Gagarina, worked on a collective farm. While manual labourers are described in official reports as "peasants", his mother was reportedly a voracious reader, and his father a skilled carpenter. Yuri was the third of four children, and his elder sister helped raise him while his parents worked. Like millions of people in the Soviet Union, the Gagarin family suffered during Nazi occupation in World War II. After a German officer took over their house, the family constructed a small mud hut where they spent a year and nine months until the end of the occupation. His two older siblings were deported to Nazi Germany for slave labour in 1943, and did not return until after the war. In 1946, the family moved to Gzhatsk.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Yuri Gagarin."
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