Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (March 9, 1934 - March 27, 1968) was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. After graduating from a technical school in 1955, he was drafted by the Soviet Army and sent to the First Chkalov Air Force Pilot's School. In 1960, after much se
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Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (March 9, 1934 - March 27, 1968) was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. After graduating from a technical school in 1955, he was drafted by the Soviet Army and sent to the First Chkalov Air Force Pilot's School. In 1960, after much searching and a selection process, Gagarin was chosen with 19 other pilots for the Soviet space program. He was further selected for an elite training group known as the Sochi Six, from which the first cosmonauts of the Vostok program would be chosen. The prospective candidates were subjected to experiments designed to test physical and psychological endurance. He was also a favored candidate by his peers. When the 20 candidates were asked to anonymously vote for which other candidate they would like to see as the first to fly, all but three chose Gagarin. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961. He became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation's highest honor. Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission (which ended in a fatal crash). He later became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, which was later named after him. He died in 1968, at the age of 34, when the MiG-15 training jet he was piloting crashed.