Yuri Gagarin in the bus on the way to the launch. The cosmonaut behind Gagarin is German Titov as “back-up pilot” who becomes pilot of “Vostok 2”. Standing were the cosmonauts Grigorij Neljubov and Andrian Nikolajev.
“Triumphant music blared across the land. Russia’s radios saluted the morning with the slow, stirring beat of the patriotic song, How Spacious Is My Country. Then came the simple announcement that shattered forever man’s ancient isolation on earth: “The world’s first spaceship, Vostok [East], with a man on board, has been launched on April 12 in the Soviet Union on a round-the-world orbit.” ” wrote TIME magazine in their cover story.
On April 12, 1961, Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin entered the textbooks as the first man in space. His relative youthfulness and experience were coupled with 5’2″ structure perfect for a space flight, and a handsome face perfect for propaganda. After the historical flight that lasted 108 minutes, he was no longer Senior Lieutenant Yuri Gagarin; he was Yuri Gagarin, Hero and Icon.
(During the flight, he was not allowed to operate the controls because the effects of weightlessness had only been tested on dogs so far. The mission was instead controlled by ground crews, and an override key was provided in case of emergency.)
Because of his popularity, the government would not allow him another trip into space. It was too dangerous and they did not want to lose their icon. Frustrated, Yuri went back to training in the MiGs. On March 27, 1968, Gagarin and his instructor, Vladimir Seryogin, took off in a MiG-15 fighter plane under poor weather conditions. Gagarincrash landed into a forest. He was just 34.
More pictures on conspiracy theory site here.