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.
Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was apparently pretty relaxed about becoming the first person in space. Just minutes before his historic launch 50 years ago, he was joking about having enough sausages and moonshine to make the trip home to Moscow after landing, according to press reports.
That's just one interesting little detail Russia has released about Gagarin's historic spaceflight of April 12, 1961, according to an AFP report. Russia has made public more than 700 pages of once-secret information about Gagarin and his mission, ahead of the flight's 50th anniversary tomorrow.
As his Vostok 1 capsule lifted off the launchpad that day, Gagarin famously said, "Poyekhali!" — Russian for "Let's go!" or "We're off!" The phrase has become embedded in the Russian lexicon, remembered by generations of Gagarin's proud countrymen. [Photos: Yuri Gagarin, First Man in Space]
But just minutes before that memorable pronouncement, Gagarin was joking around with chief rocket designer Sergei Korolyov. Korolyov apparently wanted to assure Gagarin — and perhaps himself — that the cosmonaut had enough food to last him once he touched down on Earth.
"You've got sausage, candy and jam to go with the tea," Korolyov said, according to the AFP. "Sixty-three pieces — you'll get fat! When you get back today, eat everything right away." [Video: Yuri Gagarin: First Man in Space]
"The main thing is that there is sausage — to go with the moonshine," Gagarin joked about some non-existent booze.
"Damn. This thing is recording everything, the bastard," Korolyov said, referring to the equipment recording their conversation for posterity, the AFP reported.
Some other interesting tidbits also emerged, as reported by the AFP.
Before the launch, for example, mission controllers instructed Gagarin to tear off a piece of tape and adjust some gear, because "we forgot to tape that thing." [6 Surprising Facts About the First Human Spaceflight]
Gagarin had to make another equipment adjustment, the AFP reports, because "one of the contacts failed to light up" on the mission control panel. The cosmonaut appeared to be singing and whistling to himself while mission control made these preflight checks.
One of mission scientists' chief concerns, according to the AFP, was that weightlessness might cause Gagarin to black out. But their fears were soon assuaged by the cosmonaut's words during his 108-minute flight around the Earth.
"The sensation of weightlessness feels nice," Gagarin told ground control. "Everything is swimming."