On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space, launched into orbit on the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft (Vostok 1).
The first human ever to fly in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (left), meets with spacecraft designer Sergei Korolev.
The Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft (Vostok 1) awaits the launch of Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961, which would make him the first human to travel into space.
See how the first human spaceflight by famed Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin occurred on April 12, 1961.
The Soviet Union's powerful Vostok launch vehicle put cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's capsule high enough for one 108-minute orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961.
Famed Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is seen here with daughters Yelena and Galina in an undated photo. On April 12, 1961, Gagarin became the first human to travel into space, launched into orbit on the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft (Vostok 1).
Famed Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin - the first human in space - and others pose for a photo with a model of a winged spacecraft.
This photo released by spacecraft manufacturer RSC Energia shows the Vostok spacecraft. On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin launched into orbit on Vostok 1 to become the first human to fly in space.
Yuri Gagarin seen dressing in a heating/cooling garment worn under his orange pressure suit.
Famed Russian spacecraft S. P. Korolev (in fedora hat) and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin walk to the launch pad on April 12, 1961 ahead of the launch of Vostok 1, which would become the first manned spaceship to send a human into space.
Russian spacecraft designer S. P. Korolev (partially obscured, in fedora hat) and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin approach the launch pad ahead of the April 12, 1961 launch of Vostok 1, the first human spaceflight.
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin prepares to board the Vostok 1 spacecraft on April 12, 1961 to make history's first human spaceflight.
In this collage of photos posted by Russia's Federal Space Agency, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin has arrived at the Vostok 1 spacecraft, and climbs inside ahead of the April 12, 1961 launch that made him the first human in space.
Here the re-entry capsule of the Vostok 3KA-3 (also known as Vostok 1) spacecraft (Vostok 1) is seen with charring and its parachute on the ground after landing south west of Engels, in the Saratov region of southern Russia.
On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (left, on the way to the launch pad) made the first human spaceflight, a 108-minute orbital journey in his Vostok 1 spacecraft. Newspapers like The Huntsville Times (right) trumpeted Gagarin's accomplishment.
After the successful spaceflight of Yuri Gagarin, the first person to fly in space, as well as orbit Earth, on April 12, 1961 NASA held a press conference at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC to respond to questions concerning Gagarin's flight and the status of the American space program. From left to right: Dr. Robert C. Seamans Jr., Associate Administrator; Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, Deputy Administrator; Mr. James E. Webb, Administrator; and Dr. Abe Silverstein, Director of Space Flight Programs.
In a lighter moment, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin - the first human to fly in space - poses for a photo while playing billiards.
This collage of photos from Russia's Federal Space Agency shows cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin receiving honors in Sri Lanka.
Famed cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin signs autographs in 1963, two years after becoming the first human to fly in space on April 12, 1961.
Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space.
In 1968, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin trained for another space mission, but was killed in a plane crash before doing so. Here, Gagarin is shown just before that flight in a photo released by the Russian aerospace firm RSC Energia.
Jean-François Clervoy, ESA astronaut, said, "On the STS-84 mission of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, in May 1997, I stayed nearly five days on the Russian Mir space station. When you enter of the core module of Mir, you could not be unaware of the photo of Gagarin."
The training center for cosmonauts named after first man in space Yuri Gagarin is located in Star City, about 30 kilometers north of Moscow.
The legacy cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and his historic launch on April 12, 1961, ushering in the era of human spaceflight, continues today. This year, Russia is releasing these commemorative stamps to honor Gagarin's 108-minute orbital flight.
A larger-than-life statue of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin with his arms stretched toward the heavens stands at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the launch site of his historic April 12, 1961 spaceflight, making him the first human in space. Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin (left), NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria (right) and space tourist Anousheh Ansari pose with Gagarin's statue on Sept. 13, 2006 while training for a launch toward the International Space Station.
A monument in honor of cosmonaut Yuriy A. Gagarin, the first human to fly in space, stands in front of a cosmonaut apartment building at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.
In 2001, Russian cosmonauts Yuri V. Lonchakov and Yury V. Usachev hold a photo of the late cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin for a photo aboard the International Space Station to mark the 40th anniversary of Gagarin's spaceflight on April 12, 1961.
NASA astronaut Ron Garan poses in front of the booster for the "Yuri Gagarin" Soyuz spacecraft that will carry him and two Russian cosmonauts to the International Space Station.
A Russian Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, named for famed cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin - the first human in space - launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 4, 2011 at 6:18 p.m. EDT.
On 12 April 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space when he launched into orbit on the Vostok 3KA-3 spacecraft (Vostok 1).