Gagarin's Flight

Yuri_space_helmetLaunchOn 12th April 1961 Major Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin became the first human in space and the first person to orbit the Earth. The Vostok-1 spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur launch site at 06:07 UTC* (09:07am Moscow time).





Gagarin's flight lasted 108 minutes, this including 89 minutes in space. He completed one orbit of the Earth, travelling at 27,400 kilometres per hour. At the highest point, Gagarin was 327km (203miles) above mean sea level.




For many years it was believed that Gagarin landed inside his capsule. It wasn't until 4 months later, when Gherman Titov (the second man in space) had admitted to ejecting himself from Vostok-2, that there was any investigation that Gagarin had in fact ejected from Vostok-1 and parachuted to the ground. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) delegates decided to redefine the qualifying parameters of human spaceflight to recognize that "the great technological accomplishment of spaceflight was the launch, orbiting and safe return of the human", not the manner in which he or she landed. Therefore, Gagarin remained the First Man in Space and his status as hero of the Soviet Union was unaffected. 





00:00 UTC Final testing of the spacecraft begins on the launchpad; Sergei Pavlovich Korolev attends. More info
02:30 UTC Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov wake and eat Space food for breakfast More info
02:45 UTC Gagarin and Titov undergo tests, which they both pass with flying colours More info
03:00 UTC A Medical service car arrives at the launch site delivering food for the spacecraft. More info
03:00 UTC Gherman Titov suits up More info
03:20 UTC Gagarin suits up.  He and Titov are taken to the launch site More info
03:50 UTC Gagarin records his speech to the nation More info
04:00 UTC Yuri and Korolev go through pre flight checks. More info
04:10 UTC Yuri Gagarin's voice is aired to the nation More info
05:10 UTC 50 minute alert More info
05:30 UTC 30 minutue alert. Titov is told he can now take off his suit and go to the observatory. More info
05:50 UTC Hatch is closed. 10 minute availability. Gagarin is ready to start. More info
06:07 UTC Vostok-1 launches.Yuri Gagarin shouts "POYEKHALI!" ('let's go!') More info
06:09 UTC Booster sections shut down and the nose fairing releases. More info
06:13 UTC Rocket core stage shuts down More info
06:14 UTC Vostok 1 starts to pass over Russia More info
06:15 UTC Gagarin begins to lose radio contact with Zarya-1 More info
06:17 UTC The Final stages shut down. Vostok 1 reaches orbit More info
06:21 UTC Gagarin can see the North Pacific ocean More info
06:22 UTC Radio signals from Vostok-1 are picked up on the American Radar Station More info
06:25 UTC 6 minutes in orbit, Gagarin asks Zarya-3 for orbital parametres. More info
06:31 UTC Gagarin is reaching the VHF radio horizon - soon to be out of radio range. More info
06:37 UTC Entry into eclipse More info
06:42 UTC Gagarin passes over the North Pacific near the equator More info
06:48 UTC Vostok 1 crosses the Equator. Communication is by HF radio More info
06:49 UTC Gagarin reports he is on the dark side of the Earth More info
06.51 UTC Gagarin switches on sun seeking altitude More info
06:53 UTC Khabarovsk Ground Station tell Gagarin he is in a stable orbit More info
06:57 UTC Over South Pacific between New Zealand and Chile. More info
06:57 UTC Gagarin is annouced as MAJOR YURI GAGARIN More info
07:00 UTC News of mission is broadcast on Radio Moscow. More info
07:07 UTC Status message was not received by ground stations. More info
07:10 UTC Entry into sunlight More info
07:12 UTC Over the South Atlantic Ocean More info
07:13 UTC News of the first man in space is sent out to the World - TASS report. Status message sent by Gagarin is not received by ground stations. More info
07:17 UTC Status message sent by Gagarin is not received by ground stations. More info
07:22 UTC Status message sent by Gagarin is not received by ground stations. More info
07:25 UTC Vostok 1's  fires retros for 42 seconds More info
07:25 +10 Commands sent to separate the service module. Separation fails. More info
07:26 UTC Re-entry module and Service module begin a bumpy re-entry More info
07:35 UTC Service Module wires burn through, separation complete More info
07:37 UTC Vostok-1 is over Egypt More info
07:55 UTC Vostok-1 capsule lands near Saratov More info
08:05 UTC Yuri Gagarin lands More info
Announcement is made that Yuri Gagarin has landed safely More info

*UTC - Coordinated Universal Time (GMT can be classed as the equivalent, when fractions of a second are not important)

Image references:
Photographs courtesy of  RIA Novosti – Contact Ralph Gibson:, Illustrations courtesy of Vix Southgate


Many thanks go to Vix Southgate for researching and assembling this timeline. is a portal celebrating Yuri Gagarin's flight into space. | login