He was close to becoming the first astronaut ever, but Yuri Gagarin’s eternal smile and charisma took the honour away from him. However, Gherman Titov will be remembered as the youngest astronaut in history (and also the first space photographer). At just 25 years of age, and just three months after Gagarin manned the first space flight ever, Titov took command of the Vostok 2 spacecraft and led a historic 25-hour, 17-orbit trip around Earth.
Titov was born in 1935 in a little Siberian town and had humble origins. He was an average student, who liked music and books, like any other kid nowadays. He eventually graduated in 1955 in a military aviation school in the city of Kustanai, and two years later he became a military pilot in Stalingrad.
At just 22, Titov hadn’t even considered to travel to space. He was very good at his job, though. At his age he had flown eight hundred times in several different aircrafts and had parachuted as many times. The authorities gave him the opportunity to join the first squad of Soviet cosmonauts, the pioneers of space.
But then, the captivating Yuri Gagarin came into scene, and was selected just four days before the first flight. Titov was the second favourite candidate. When his turn came, a few months later, he became not only the youngest astronaut in history, but also the first to take pictures of our planet!