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April 12 marks 55 years since first man ushered in space era

Major Yuri Gagarin, a 27-year-old officer of the Soviet Air Force became the trailblazer of manned flights

Baku. 12 April. REPORT.AZ/ Humankind will always remember Wednesday April 12, 1961, as one of the brightest dates in its history. A mere sixteen years after the end of World War II, which left huge areas in the European part of the USSR fully devastated, the Soviet Union shook the world by sending the first cosmonaut into space, Report informs.

Major Yuri Gagarin, a 27-year-old officer of the Soviet Air Force became the trailblazer of manned flights.

Sergei Korolyov, the chief designer of Soviet launch vehicles and spacecraft wrote later on Gagarin had shown what man was capable of and that was the most audacious venture.

"He opened the road to an unknown world for the people and he imparted to them faith in their own abilities, stimulating them towards more confident and resolute steps," Korolyov wrote. "That was a promethean deed."

Premier Nikita Krushchev named Gagarin a hero of the Soviet Union, and Gagarin, who became an international hero, was dubbed "the Christopher Columbus of the Cosmos."

His flight during Cold War tensions sent the American space program into a frenzy. The Soviet Union had said the space flight was an affirmation of "the genius of the Soviet people."

Less than a month later, U.S. astronaut Alan Shepherd became the first American in space. In February of the next year, U.S. astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth.

Gagarin died in a plane he was piloting in 1968. At the time of his death, he was training for a second space mission.

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