April 1961: Yuri Gagarin becomes first man in space

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For an 11 year old boy, April brought the biggest news of the year: a man went into space. At 6.07 Moscow Time on Wednesday 12 April 1961, a Vostock rocket took off from Baikonur Cosmodrome with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on board. The spaceflight undertook a single orbit around the earth, skimming the upper atmosphere at 169 km high at its lowest point. The flight took 108 minutes from launch to landing. Gagarin landed on the ground in the Saratov region of the USSR inside the capsule, after the parachute opened at an altitude of 7km.

Not surprisingly, this story dominated the news around the world.

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