Yuri Gagarin Celebrated
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin—honored today with a Google Doodle—waves from a car outside the Russian Embassy in London in July 1961, a few months after he became the first human to fly in space. Today marks the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's historic first orbit around Earth aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft.
Upon his safe return, Gagarin was hailed as a hero, both at home and abroad, said Cathleen Lewis, the curator of international space programs and space suits at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) in Washington, D.C.
"He was greeted with crowds and a great deal of warmth," Lewis said. "I think people really were fascinated. They looked beyond the Cold War aspect and looked to [Gagarin] as a hero of this science fiction fantasy of space flight."
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