First Man in Orbit

Yuri Gagarin
Launch Date: 12 April 1961

The Russian cosmonaut completed an orbit of earth during his 108-minute spaceflight aboard Vostok I. Being the first human in space, he later explained the experience of weightlessness:”You feel as if you were haning in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as you are suspended.” It was to be his only mission into space and he died in a plane crash in 1968 during a routine flight.

First Women
in orbit

Valentina Tereshkova
16 June 1963

The Russian orbited the earth 48 times during her near-three-day spell aboard Vostok 6.

Space walk

Alexey Leonov
18 March 1965

Another Russian cosmonaut, Leonov undertook a 12-min period of ‘extra-vehicular activity’ during the Voskhod 2 mission.


First Death
in space 

Vladimir Komarov
24 April 1967
The Russian was killed when the Soyuz 1 spacecraft he was piloting crashed on its re-entry to Earth.

Moon walk

Neil Armstrong
21 July 1969

Apollo 11 mission commander Armstrong climbed down from the lunar lander Eagle and onto the moon’s surface.

First space tourist

Dennis Tito
28 April 2001

The american multimillionaire spent nearly eight days in space, reaching the International Space Station EP-1 aboard the Russian craft Soyuz TM-32.

First primate in space

Albert II
14 June 1949

A rhesus monkey called Albert II reached an altitude of about 134km in a US-launched V2 rocket. Albert II died on impact after a parachute failure.

First animal
in orbit

3 November 1957

The Russian mongrel dog Laika survived four orbits aboard Sputnik 2 before dying, possibly as a result of overheating.

First manually controlled spaceflight

Alan Shepard
5 May 1961

The American reached an altitude of 187km aboard Freedom 7 during which he had some control of his craft ( Gagarin’s flight was strictly automatic ).

First whole
day in orbit

Gherman Titov
6 August Titov

As Well as spening a whole day aboard Vostok 2, Russian Titov orbited the earth 17 times and was the first to sleep in space.


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