"Having flown around the earth in the first satellite I saw how beautiful our planet is, let us not destroy it!"
April 11, 2001 7:22 PM   Subscribe

He was 27, my age. For some reason, that astonishes me.
posted by holgate at 7:28 PM on April 11, 2001

He was the first person and space, but at the time with the cold war and McCarthyism and all he was hardly mentioned, and his achievements, over time have been downplayed in favor of moon landings that he is virtually unheard of in the US.

Shame he died so young, it was like a part from 'the right stuff' movie, test pilots chosen for the program. Wonder why there was never anything made about it; have to read Pelevin's Omon Ra though I've heard it takes a more cynical voice to it all.

I sometimes wonder if somewhere out there, an alien civilization is keeping eye on us and noting the great achievements and which was greater.
posted by tiaka at 7:50 PM on April 11, 2001

Btw, regarding 'the right stuff', anyone else chuckle over 'star city' mistake? Everyone knows launches took over at Baikanur, in Kazakhstan.
posted by tiaka at 7:53 PM on April 11, 2001

Misread, tiaka: "On 12 April, 1961, the first manned spaceship left our planet from the Baikonur cosmodrome in the Soviet Union... From Zvyozdny Gorodok (Star Town), Yuri had flown to the cosmodrome."

But no matter. 109 minutes that changed the world.
posted by holgate at 8:15 PM on April 11, 2001

Maybe it's because I'm a space nut, but I really don't think Yuri Gagarin has been "forgotten" in America. Of course his accomplishments were played down during the space race, but in our hearts I think we all know we owe a debt to Mr. Gagarin - one of history's great explorers...
posted by owillis at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2001

Tiaka: I just finished Omon Ra. "A more cynical voice to it all" would definitely be an understatement here.
posted by smeat at 8:30 PM on April 11, 2001

I saw a documentary on Gagarin a couple of years ago on the BBC....it implied that all he wanted to do was to fly again, and perhaps return to space. The Soviet government wouldn't let him do this, because he was to valuable as a propaganda tool.

Allegedly his plane on his final test flight was sabotaged. They had decided to get rid of him because he was becoming difficult for them.

The accident was the best way to get rid of him - "Hero dies in tragedy" etc etc.
posted by tomcosgrave at 2:50 AM on April 12, 2001

That sounds a little too .007 for me, tom. There are much better ways to get rid of somebody, without sabotaging your own aircraft. Generally, such accidents are pretty embarrassing, especially if they make newspapers around the world.
posted by jpoulos at 10:14 AM on April 12, 2001

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