Country of Origin: USSR
3-D Test: 1.2 x 17cm (1/2 x 6 11/16 in.)
This medal commemorates this first human spaceflight. On 12 April 1961, Soviet Air Forces pilot, Major Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968) became the first man to orbit the Earth. The Vostok spacecraft with Gagarin inside was launched atop the launch vehicle by the same name and completed one orbit of the Earth in 89 minutes. Just prior to landing, at an altitude of 23,000, feet, Gagarin was ejected from the Vostok capsule and parachuted safely to Earth. The public announcement of his flight brought about spontaneous demonstrations within the former Soviet Union. Internationally, the flight seemed to confirm the perception that the USSR was ahead of the United States in the space race that had begun with the Soviet launch of sputnik in 1957. The reverse of this medal depicts the Vostok spacecraft in orbit around the Earth.
The K. E. Tsiolkovskii Museum of the History of Cosmonautics presented this medal to the National Air and Space Museum in 1974.
Gift of the K.E. Tsiolkovskyy Muesum of the History of Cosmonautics