Why did Vladimir Komarov jump out of space

Yuri Gagarin: The first person in space

A farmer's son flies into space

On April 12, 1961, the weather in the Soviet Baikonur space center was good: clear visibility, no clouds. At 9:07 am, the Vostok I - the Russian word for "East" - was supposed to transport the first human into space. Gagarin had climbed into the flight capsule two hours earlier, where he had to wait until the rocket was refueled and the final adjustments were made. At the time, the 27-year-old farmer's son from Smolensk was almost a stranger to the world.

And it was not certain that anything would change about that: the chances of surviving this flight were less than 50 percent. Three out of five test rockets had exploded on take-off, no human had ever flown at such an altitude and no one knew how this would affect the human organism.

On this April day, however, the start was successful. Gagarin circled the world in 89 minutes, 34 seconds. Then the space capsule, in which Gagarin lay more than it sat, swung out of orbit along with the last remaining supply part. The two pieces were supposed to separate, because only the capsule was protected from burning up in the atmosphere. Something was stuck, the connection between the two parts could not be severed and the parts caught fire. Gagarin tried again and managed to loosen the capsule. As if rehearsed a hundred times, he threw himself out of the capsule at a height of 7,000 meters and landed with a parachute in a field near the Volga.

"Hero of the Soviet Union"

Millions of Soviet citizens were proud of Gagarin, people from all over the world were amazed at this friendly, smiling, personable man. The government of the USSR exploited success in the race to conquer space. Gagarin was named "Hero of the Soviet Union" and stylized as a role model. The communist government sent him on a journey around the earth, the curve of which he was the first person to marvel at from above.

The Soviet leadership celebrated him as the "Columbus of the cosmos". Once again it had beaten the USA, after the first satellite - Sputnik I - also sent the first human into space. Gagarin was sent on a promotional tour for the Soviet Union and communism. He shook hands with Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in Cuba and met Gina Lollobrigida. He was invited to breakfast with the English Queen Elisabeth II.

Unexplained death of the space pioneer

Gagarin was and should remain a hero. He was not exposed to any danger and was no longer an option for space flights. Fortunately for him, he was not used for a flight on the Soyuz I in 1967. Because everything went wrong, the pilot Vladimir Komarov, a friend of Gagarin's, was killed on landing.