April 3, 2011 by markstani
Fifty years ago this month, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. There’s a great piece about him in the Independent On Sunday. On his return to earth, Gagarin ejected at an altitude of 7km, parachuting down because the Soviet authorities were not convinced they could return him safely. They covered it up for years, convincing the outside world they’d pulled off the perfect landing. The great first paragraph of the article is here:
Anna Takhtarova and her granddaughter, Rita, were weeding potatoes near the village of Smelovka on 12 April 1961 when a man in a strange orange suit and a bulging white helmet approached across the field. The forest warden’s wife crossed herself but the girl was intrigued. ‘I’m a friend, comrades. A friend,’ shouted the young man, removing his headgear. Takhtarova looked at him curiously. ‘Can it be that you have come from outer space,’ she asked. ‘As a matter of fact, I have,’ replied Yuri Gagarin.