Colonel Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin (March 9, 1934 - March 27, 1968) was a Soviet cosmonaut and the first human in space.
Gagarin was born in a small town west of Moscow, Russia, and grew up on a collective farm. His father was a carpenter. Yuri joined the Soviet Air Force and became a fighter pilot and an officer. He was chosen to be in the first group of Soviet cosmonauts.
Gagarin piloted the Vostok 1 (Vostok means East in Russian) mission, which launched April 12, 1961, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. His flight lasted 108 minutes and orbited the Earth one time. The capsule traveled at an altitude of 112 to 203 miles (180-327 km) above Earth, at a speed of 27,400 km/hr. Flight was controlled from the ground. The spacecraft was recovered later that day in the Saratov region of the Soviet Union.
Gagarin died at age 34 when his MiG-15 plane crashed in bad weather near Moscow. He had been training for a second space trip.
Gagarin Crater, a wide shallow, circular, and heavily eroded crater on the far side of the moon, was named for him. Gagarin had a wife, named Valentina Gagarin, and two daughters, called Yelena and Galya.