Here are our picks for the top 10 first space events.

1First man in the orbit – Yuri Gagarian 

Launch Date: 12 April, 1961

The Russian cosmonaut completed an orbit of earth during his 108-minute space flight aboard Vostok I. Being the first human outside the earth he later explained the experience of weightlessness: “You feel as if you were hanging in a horizontal position in straps. You feel as if you were suspended.” After landing back on Earth, Gagarian became an instant celebrity, touring the world to tell the adoring public about his big adventure. It was to be his only mission into space and he died in a plane crash in 1968 during a routine flight. His ashes were buried in the walls of the Kremlin in Moscow.

2First woman in orbit – Valentina Tereshkova

Launch Date: 16 June, 1963

The Russian orbited the Earth 48 times during her near-three-day spell aboard Vostok 6.

3First space walk – Alexey Leonov

Launch Date: 18 March, 1995

Another Russian cosmonaut, Leonov undertook a 12-minute period of ‘extra-vehicular activity’ (space walk) during the Voskhod 2 mission. He was secured by a five-meter feather.

4First death in space – Vladimir Komarov

Launch Date: 24 April, 1967

The Russian was killed when the Soyuz 1 aircraft he was piloting crashed on its re-entry to Earth.

5First moon walk – Neil Armstrong

Launch Date: 21 July, 1969

Apollo 11 mission commander Armstrong climbed down from the lunar lander Eagle and onto the moon’s surface.

6First tourist – Dennis Tito

Launch Date: 28 April, 2001

The American multimillionaire spent nearly eight days in space, reaching the International Space Station EP-1 aboard the Russian craft Soyuz TM-32.

7First primate in space – Albert II

Launch Date: 14 June, 1949

A rhesus monkey called Albert II reached an altitude of about 134Km in a US-launched V2 rocket. Albert II died on impact after a parachute failure.

8First animal in orbit – Laika

 Launch Date: 3 November, 1957

The Russian mongrel dog Laika survived four orbits aboard Sputnik 2 before dying, possibly as a result of overheating.

9First manually controlled spacecraft – Alan Shepard

Launch Date: 5 May, 1961

The American reached an altitude of 187Km aboard Freedom 7 during which he had some control of his craft (Gagarian’s flight was strightly automatic).

10First whole day in orbit – Gherman Titov

Launch Date: 6 August, 1961

As well as spending a whole day aboard Vostok 2, Russian Titov orbited the earth 17 times and was the first to sleep in space.





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