Thursday, December 01, 2005

Russian Astronaut Yuri Gagarin

How mad would you be if your camera jammed when meeting a famous person? A Swede reports on his frustration above when he meets famous Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin.

After making mankind's first space flight, Gagarin's enthusiasm and gregarious personality helped spur international excitement about the event. Reading about his preparation, apprehension, and determination makes the cold war almost seem abstract. At a press conference before his flight, he remarked "To be the first to enter the cosmos, to engage single handed in an unprecedented duel with nature - how could anyone dream of anything greater than that?" How cool is that?

To get a better sense of the man, you can read and view his life in pictures at this site. With all that he faced, his comrades nonetheless reported that, "During the days of preparation for the launch, when everyone had more than his share of concerns, apprehensions, and anxieties, he alone seemed to keep calm. More than that: he was full of good spirits and beamed like the sun."

His personality is displayed at his flight liftoff description as well. Apparently, he was well liked by all and remembered as a "fit comrade, (who) never loses heart, a man of principles, bold and steadfast, modest and simple, decisive, a leader." Of course it was not unexpected that Yuri would play a part in Soviet propaganda, as in this booklet.

Unfortunately, he would die at age 34(!) (obituary from the NYTimes)

Wikipedia Sidenote:
Khrushchev saw Gagarin's achievement as a vindication of his policy of strengthening the Soviet Union's missile forces at the expense of conventional arms. This policy antagonised the Soviet military establishment and contributed to Khrushchev's eventual downfall.

History has a strange way about it


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