Neil Armstrong got all the fame when he became the first human to set foot on the Moon in the summer of 1969. However, before he took that “small step for man” and “big leap for humanity”, the Russian Yuri Gagarin had already taken a trip into space, eight years earlier.
He did so at the controls of the Vostok 1, on board of which he spent exactly 108 minutes circling the Earth. Pay close attention to this figure: in the time you watch two chapters of Stranger Things, he went around our planet at a speed of 27,400 kilometres per hour.
Nowadays, we are used to seeing what the Earth is like from the outside. For Yuri, who still had a few years left to turn thirty, it was a huge surprise: “It’s blue!” And not only that. In the report he wrote on his return home, he said that from the cosmic heights, «the planet is clearly visible and the mountains, coasts and islands stand out perfectly».
As you can imagine, that trip was not plain sailing. Being the first in history, not quite everything was anticipated as it should for Gagarin’s return to Earth. When he was at altitude of 7,000 metres, Gagarin had to eject himself off the ship. After opening his parachute, he smoothly landed on a green meadow. The bad news? The team that waited for him was almost 400 kilometres away, so he had to wait a little bit to tell anyone everything he had seen in those nearly two hours of adventure.