April 12 marks the 60th anniversary of the first manned flight into space.

By the anniversary date, a new multimedia section entitled "Earth Orbits of Space Conquerors" was opened on the website of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

Within the framework of the project, unique photographs and documents were published on the website for the first time, including the personal files of the Air Force officers who were the first to conquer space.

Most of the documents and photographs previously inaccessible to the general public are associated with the personality of the first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin.

"Loves to fly, flies boldly and confidently"

On April 12, 1961, at 09:07 Moscow time, the Soviet spacecraft Vostok-1 took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome.

It was piloted by Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin, who was awarded the extraordinary rank of major right on the day of the flight.

The flight lasted 1 hour 48 minutes and ended with the successful return of the first cosmonaut to Earth.

  • Yuri Gagarin

  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

This event was preceded by many months of training and careful selection of astronaut candidates.

The flight detachment was recruited exclusively by fighter pilots with a lot of hours of flight.

In addition, the candidate had to be a man no higher than 175 cm tall and weighing 70-72 kg - these parameters were chosen due to the size of the habitable capsule of the Vostok ship.

The applicant's age should not have been more than 30 years

The health of the future astronaut had to be perfect: chronic diseases and traces of surgical operations blocked the way for pilots to space.

The members of the selection committee took into account other factors as well.

For example, the pace of work, emotionality, the nature of mistakes, the degree of self-criticism of astronauts, and even temperament.

Future space explorers had to be able to overcome fear, work in a stressful situation and be extremely attentive.

In the spring of 1960, 20 people were enrolled in the first cosmonaut corps, and in the summer of the same year, six of them were selected: Yuri Gagarin, German Titov, Andriyan Nikolaev, Pavel Popovich, Grigory Nelyubov and Valery Bykovsky.

  • In the top row from left to right: P.R.

    Popovich, G.G.

    Nelyubov, G.S.

    Titov, V.F.


    In the bottom row from left to right: A.G.

    Nikolaev, Yu.A.

    Gagarin, S.P.

    Korolev (center), the first head of the Cosmonaut Training Center E.A.

    Karpov, head of the airborne service N.K.


  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

As a result, it was decided that Yuri Gagarin would become the first cosmonaut on Earth.

According to the graduation certification of the cadet of the 1st Chkalovsk Military Aviation School of Pilots named after K.E.

Voroshilov, the total flight time on the planes of the future first cosmonaut of the planet at that time was 166 hours, of which 103 hours on the piston Yak-18 and Yak-18U and 63 hours on the jet MiG-15 and MiG-15bis.

“He likes to fly, flies boldly and confidently.

In flights he was bold, initiative, persistent, "- such a characteristic was received by Gagarin after graduating from the aviation school.

“From 1957 to 1959, while serving in the 769th Fighter Aviation Regiment, Yuri Alekseevich flew another 265 hours, of which 145 hours were flights on jet fighters,” the Ministry of Defense reports.

It is worth noting that Yuri Gagarin was not only cosmonaut No. 1, but also the first commander of the cosmonaut detachment, and since 1963 he became deputy head of the Cosmonaut Training Center, commander and mentor for the first cosmonauts.

As follows from the documents of the Ministry of Defense, having made the first flight, Gagarin continued to improve his qualifications.

In February 1968 he graduated from the Air Force Engineering Academy.


Zhukovsky, in which he defended his thesis on the methodology of use and subsonic aerodynamics of a single-seat aerospace vehicle being developed by a group of students-cosmonauts.

“Judging by Yuri Gagarin's record book, which is listed at number 1, he knew most of the disciplines (among which, for example, a completely new for that time“ radio-electronic equipment of spacecraft ”) he knew perfectly well.

The only subject that required special diligence from Yuri Gagarin was higher mathematics.

In this subject, he has a stable "good" throughout his studies, - says the materials of the Ministry of Defense.

But just a month after defending his thesis, the life of Yuri Gagarin ended tragically.

He died on March 27, 1968, while performing a training flight on a MiG-15UTI aircraft.

The first cosmonaut was 34 years old. 

War veterans, inventors and conquerors of space

The Ministry of Defense has published materials about other pioneers of space exploration.

So, the site contains documents from the personal file of Georgy Beregovoy.

He was a student-cosmonaut of the first squadron, and then became an astronaut of the second squad, making his first flight into orbit on October 26, 1968 at the age of 47.

  • Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR Georgy Beregovoy in the orbital compartment of the Soyuz spacecraft

  • RIA News

According to the established tradition, all Soviet cosmonauts received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

Beregovoy was no exception, but for him this award was already the second - he received the first Star of the Hero during the Great Patriotic War.

During the war, Beregovoy served in the assault aviation.

In the published combat characteristics of October 23, 1942, the flight commander, foreman G.T.

Beregovoy can be read: "... is a young flight commander who does not yet have sufficient experience in educating subordinates, but he himself can serve as an example for subordinates in all types of combat training."

The skill of the Beregovoy attack aircraft is confirmed by the combat characteristics of September 3, 1943.

It says that since March 25, 1943, on the Voronezh front “... comrade.

Beregovoy made 28 sorties, of which 15 times he flew groups of 6 to 9 units, and all the times he brought them exactly to the target. "

At this time, Georgy Timofeevich was deputy squadron commander of the 90th Guards Assault Regiment.

  • Combat characteristics of Georgy Beregovoy

  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

According to the documents, his unit from March to September "destroyed 158 vehicles with various cargoes, 27 enemy tanks, shot down 3 enemy aircraft in an air battle by pilots and gunners, destroyed 4 artillery batteries, blew up 2 ammunition depots, 13 wagons with different cargoes."

The site also contains documents from the personal file of the front-line soldier and test pilot Mark Galai.

In the first cosmonaut corps, he was an instructor-methodologist for piloting spaceships.

Like Beregovoy, Galai took part in the Great Patriotic War.

“His combat path began in July 1941, when he became a fighter pilot of the 2nd separate fighter squadron of the Moscow Air Defense Forces.

He took part in the hostilities to repel the night attacks of German bombers on the capital.

Subsequently, he himself fought in the bomber aviation ”, - noted in the materials of the military department.

  • Mark Galay

  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

The award list of March 11, 1942 with Galai's submission to the Order of the Red Banner, published on the website, states: “… as a comprehensively developed pilot, he quickly mastered the tactics of bomber aviation;

in the beginning he flew as a follower, and recently as a leader. "

Although Galai did not fly into space, nevertheless, on May 1, 1957, he received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for another feat - testing a new jet aircraft.

Another front-line soldier, Nikolai Kamanin, played a significant role in preparing the cosmonauts for the first flight into orbit.

He began the war as commander of the 4th Aviation Brigade of the Central Asian Military District.

According to the service profile of July 31, 1941, Kamanin "during the command of the air brigade showed himself to be a strong-willed commander, he can transfer his knowledge to his subordinates."

After the war, he became deputy chief of combat training for space.

For his success in his new career, Kamanin was nominated for state awards, as evidenced, among other things, by the award list for the Order of Lenin dated May 15, 1961, which, among other things, states: “Before the flight on April 12, 1961, I personally led the training of the major Gagarina Yu.A.

and reserve cosmonaut Captain G.S. Titov, before the launch, at the time of launch and during the flight, he communicated with Major YA Gagarin, monitoring his condition and informing him about the flight according to the given program. "

Documents from the personal file of Alexei Leonov, the first person to enter open space, have also been published on the website.

  • Alexey Leonov's track record

  • © Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

It is known from Leonov's personal file that he invented "a simulator for manual orientation, docking of spaceships and purposeful training of the cosmonaut's vestibular apparatus."

As noted in the materials of the Ministry of Defense, the basic principles of this device are still used in astronautics.

The new section on the website of the Russian Ministry of Defense also contains unique archival materials from the personal files of cosmonauts Titov, Dobrovolsky, Komarov, Feoktistov and Shatalov. 

"These people drank the hard times of war"

According to experts, the Soviet people, who were the first in the world to explore outer space, were distinguished by a special fortitude: they all survived the difficult years of the Great Patriotic War, and some of them were front-line soldiers.

“These people have drank the hard times of war.

For example, the Nazis drove the Gagarin family out of the house, after which they had to live in a dugout while the occupation was underway.

Although Yuri Alekseevich was a child at that time, it entered his memory for the rest of his life, "Dmitry Gulutin, an employee of the Cosmonautics and Aviation Center at VDNKh, told RT.

Nathan Eismont, a researcher at the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, shares a similar point of view.

“This generation accomplished a feat, it was not only able to go through the war and return to normal life, but also to transfer from airplanes to a spaceship.

Everyone who entered the cosmonaut corps, including those who prepared and did not fly, are heroes, "he stressed in an interview with RT.

Dmitry Gulutin also recalled that cosmonaut Pavel Belyaev received combat experience during the Second World War.

“The oldest in the detachment is Pavel Ivanovich Belyaev, who later became the commander of the Voskhod-2 spacecraft, and with whom Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov went into open space in 1965, took part in the war with Japan in August 1945,” the expert noted.

Analysts drew attention to the fact that the USSR was forced to develop its space program in the most difficult conditions, after a devastating war that claimed millions of lives and caused enormous damage to the country's economy.

“It was incredibly difficult to develop the country and science in conditions when some branches of the national economy were completely lost, and a significant part of the population died during the war.

In order to return to normal life, I had to go through the hardest trials ”, - said Nathan Eismont.

Dmitry Gulutin adheres to a similar position.

“At the time when the leadership of the USSR began the process of space exploration, there was nothing, there was no one to learn from, the country had to follow its own method, to do so that as a result there were fewer failures, accidents and tragic outcomes.

Subsequently, thanks to a rather serious education, the presence of specialists who were able to implement such an extremely complex technical solution, the country was able to win the space race, ”the expert said.

According to analysts, the decision of the Ministry of Defense to publish these documents is a timely and useful step.

“It is necessary to create more such projects, we must preserve the memory of those people who created all this, in order to protect Russia and increase its prestige.

At that time, the whole world really paid attention to the USSR, wondering and admiring how, in the shortest possible time after the war, the country became a leader in space exploration, ”concluded Dmitry Gulutin.