|On April 12th, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut
Alexseyevich Gagarin became the first human in space.
His remotely controlled
spacecraft lofted him to an altitude of 200 miles and
once around planet Earth.
Commenting on the first
view from space
he reported, "The sky is very dark; the Earth is bluish.
Everything is seen very clearly".
His view could have resembled
this image taken in 2003 from the
International Space Station.
Alan Shepard, the first US astronaut,
would not be launched until almost a month later and then
on a comparatively short suborbital flight.
Born on March 9, 1934,
was a military pilot before being
chosen for the first group of cosmonauts in 1960.
As a result of his
historic flight he became an
international hero and legend.
Killed when his
MIG jet crashed during a training flight in 1968, Gagarin was given a hero's funeral,
his ashes interred in the
Twenty years later, on yet another April 12th, in 1981, NASA launched the
first space shuttle.
Expedition 7 Crew,