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Gagarin, Yuri Alekseyevich, 1934-1968



  • Existence: 1934 - 1968

Biographical Information

Yuri Gagarin was born on a collective farm, March 9, 1934 in Klushino, Russia, a small village 100 miles west of Moscow. He was the third of four children. His father worked as a carpenter, cabinetmaker, bricklayer and farmer. His mother was a milkmaid.

Gagarin's favorite subject in school was mathematics. He also studied physics and was an avid reader. He completed six grades in secondary school before going to trade school. The story is told of young Yuri witnessing a Russian Yak fighter plane that made a forced landing in a field near his home. When the pilots disembarked from the plane they wore military medals all over their uniforms, and Gagarin was highly impressed.

After secondary school he graduated from trade school in 1951, and became a foundry man. He continued his education at a four-year Industrial College at Saratov and joined a flying club in his last year. He graduated in 1955.

Upon graduation from Industrial College, Gagarin was encouraged, and entered the Soviet Air Force cadet school at Orenburg. He graduated in 1957. On his graduation day from pilot school, in November of 1957, he married Valentina Ivanova Goryacheva.

In 1959, Gagarin submitted his request to become a cosmonaut and was accepted. He underwent strenuous training in physical, mental and psychological arenas. He excelled in all. He was a likable and confident man who had a calm demeanor according to his instructors. Two years later, Yuri Gagarin became the first man to ascend into space. He was 27 years old. His space flight on Vostok 1 lasted 108 minutes as he circled the earth one time. His maximum altitude was 187 miles above earth at a speed of 18,000 miles per hour. Upon reentry into the earth’s atmosphere, Gagarin ejected and parachuted to safety.

Upon his return to earth, he was given the title of Hero and received numerous awards. Streets were renamed for him and monuments were raised in honor of his space flight. He and his wife became good will ambassadors and traveled to many countries. He never made another space flight.

Gagarin died in 1968, along with another pilot on a routine training flight in a MiG-15. After his death, the town of Gzhatsk was renamed, Gagarin.

The Apollo 15 mission left a plaque on the moon in memory of the men, Americans and Russians who died "leading mankind into space."


Actforlibraries (2016). Web. Biography Yuri Gagarin. Retrieved July 28, 2016 from />


Actforlibraries (2016). Web. Biography Yuri Gagarin. Retrieved July 28, 2016 from

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Yuri Gagarin Song Book and Commemorative Matches Box Set

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSP 205
Scope and Contents The Yuri Gagarin Song Book and Commemorative Matches Box Set honors Gagarin's achievement as the first person in space. The collection includes a commemorative poem and song book from Moscow (1962) honoring cosmonaut Gagarin and his fellow cosmonauts; Gherman Titov, Andriyan Nikolayev, and Pavel Popovich, the first four Soviets in space. Also included is a commemorative box set of matches. The illustrated souvenir box (9 ¼" x 11 ½") contains 28 individual illustrated boxes of matches, designed...
Dates: 1934 - 1968