Range Tracking

Reds Put Man Into Orbit

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Yuri Gagarin, a citizen of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics — a country that does not even exist today — became the first person in space to orbit the Earth on 12 April 1961. Cosmonaut Gagarin’s historic 108-minute flight aboard the Vostok spacecraft electrified the world and started the Soviet Union and the United States on a space race that culminated with American astronauts walking on the Moon less than ten years later. Gagarin’s Vostok spacecraft did not have the capability to land back on Earth with him inside of it so, once back inside the atmosphere, Gagarin ejected out of the spacecraft from where he parachuted down to land in a field amongst farmers a bit surprised by his sudden appearance. Amusingly, the Vostok also landed safely under its own parachute where it was set upon by souvenir hunters for a time before the security forces could arrive. The collage is made up of an image of a model of Gagarin’s Vostok on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, while the image behind it is a charcoal and watercolor image I made years ago to commemorate the event on an earlier occasion.

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