World History Minute: Gagarin In Space

A portrait of Soviet Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the earth in space, shown training in a hand out photo released in April 1961.
A portrait of Soviet Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the earth in space, shown training in a hand out photo released in April 1961. AP Photo / HO
A portrait of Soviet Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the earth in space, shown training in a hand out photo released in April 1961.
A portrait of Soviet Yuri Gagarin, the first man to orbit the earth in space, shown training in a hand out photo released in April 1961. AP Photo / HO

World History Minute: Gagarin In Space

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During the 1950s, the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was played out in a Space Race. The Soviets eventually won after Lieutenant Yuri Gagarin became the first human traveler in space on April 12, 1961.

Today, the date is celebrated in Russia as Cosmonaut’s Day. Historian John Schmidt tells the story of Gagarin’s space flight journey.