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. (Watch astronaut footage that re-creates what Yuri Gagarin saw.) 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." —Ker Than Related Space-Age Content On Yuri Gagarin's Night, Spy the Space Station Flying Overhead "Sounds of the Space Age" interactive Pictures: Sputnik at 50 Space Travel Time Line Space Monkey Pictures: 50-Year Anniversary Early Manned Spaceflight

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. (Watch astronaut footage that re-creates what Yuri Gagarin saw.) 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." —Ker Than Related Space-Age Content On Yuri Gagarin's Night, Spy the Space Station Flying Overhead "Sounds of the Space Age" interactive Pictures: Sputnik at 50 Space Travel Time Line Space Monkey Pictures: 50-Year Anniversary Early Manned Spaceflight
Photograph by AP

Yuri Gagarin: First Human Space Flight in Pictures

On the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first orbit, see pictures of the man, his spacecraft, and the global impact of his flight.

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