The First Human Orbits the Earth 50 years ago

Yuri Gagarin, a Russian cosmonaut, became the first human in space and also to orbit the Earth on April 12, 1961. View some clips below of this historic event that impacted the world.

(NOTE: Move mouse over clips to preview. Click clip for details.)

Gagarin completed a successful flight aboard the Vostok 1, which was only designed to carry a single cosmonaut. He was in space for 1 hour and 48 minutes.

Yuri Gagarin became an international celebrity, visiting countries such as England, Spain, and Italy. He was also awarded Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation’s highest honor.

The race to space was a challenge for the Americans also. Less than a month later, Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. became the first American in space on May 5, 1961.

To see more footage of Yuri Gagarin, click here

Tags: Alan Barlett Shepard Jr., Americans, , Vostok 1, Yuri Gagarin