Yuri Gagarin. First man in space. For the rest of history his name will rank -- perhaps with Columbus, Magellan, Marco Polo and Neil Armstrong's -- among the world's greatest explorers. He was, after all, the first ever to leave the world behind.
On the morning of April 12, 1961, Gagarin, then 27, flew Vostok 1 on a single orbit of the Earth. It took him 108 minutes. He launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Soviet Union, reached a maximum speed of about 17,500 mph and an altitude of...Full Story