Yuri Gagarin

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Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it!

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (9 March 193427 March 1968) was a Soviet cosmonaut and the first human in space (12 April 1961).


I am a friend, comrades, a friend!
The main force in man — is the power of the spirit.
  • Let's go! (Russian: Поéхали, Poyekhali!)
    • Uttered during the launch of Vostok 1 (12 April 1961); quoted by Sergey Viktorovich Novikov, in Большая историческая энциклопедия (The Greater Historical Encyclopedia) (2003) by Olma Media Group, p, 943
    • Variant translations: Let's ride!
    • Let's drive!
    • Off we go!
  • I am a friend, comrades, a friend!
    • First words upon returning to Earth, to a woman and a girl near where his capsule landed (12 April 1961) The woman asked: "Can it be that you have come from outer space?" to which Gagarin replied: "As a matter of fact, I have!"
      • Quoted in The Air Up There : More Great Quotations on Flight (2003) by Dave English, p. 118
  • Dear friends, both known and unknown to me, fellow countrymen, men and women of all lands and continents!
    In a few minutes a mighty spaceship will take me into the far-away expanses of the Universe. What can I say to you in these last minutes before the start? I see my whole past life as one wonderful moment. Everything I have experienced and done till now has been in preparation for this moment. You must realise that it is hard to express my feelings now that the test for which we have been training ardently and long is at hand. I don't have to tell you what I felt when it was suggested that I should make this flight, the first in history. Was it joy? No, it was something more than that. Pride? No, it was not just pride. I felt very happy - to be the first in space, to engage in an unprecedented duel with Nature - could one dream of anything greater than that?
    But then I thought of the tremendous responsibility of being the first to accomplish what generations of people had dreamed of, the first to show man the way into space... Can you think of a task more difficult that the one assigned to me. It is not responsibility to a single person, or dozens of people, or even a collective. It is responsibility to all Soviet people, to all mankind, to its present and its future. And if I am nevertheless venturing on this flight, it is because I am a Communist, because I draw strength from unexampled exploits performed by my compatriots, Soviet men and women. I know that I shall muster all my will power the better to do the job. Realising its importance, I will do all I can to carry out the assignment of the Communist Party and the Soviet people.
    Am I happy to be starting on a space flight? Of course I am. In all times and all eras man's greatest joy has been to take part in new discoveries.
    I would like to dedicate this first space flight to the people of communism, a society which our Soviet people are already entering, and which, I am confident, all men on earth will enter.
    It is a matter of minutes now before the start. I say to you good-bye, dear friends, just as people say to each other when setting out on a long journey. I would like very much to embrace you all - people known and unknown to me, close friends and strangers alike.
    See you soon!
  • Many people are interested in my biography. I have read in a newspaper that some irresponsible persons in the United States of America, who are distant relatives of the Gagarins princes and think that I am one of their offsprings. I have to disillusion them. I am a simple Soviet man. I was born March 9, 1934, to the family of a collective farmer. The place of my birth: Smolensk region, Gzhatsk district, the village of Klushino. I’ve never heard and don’t know any princes or nobility in my family tree. Before the revolution my parents were poor peasants. The older generation of my family, my grandfather and grandmother, were also poor peasants.
  • Rays were blazing through the atmosphere of the earth, the horizon became bright orange, gradually passing into all the colors of the rainbow: from light blue to dark blue, to violet and then to black. What an indescribable gamut of colors! Just like the paintings of the artist Nicholas Roerich.
    • Statement of April 1961, as quoted in Warrior of Light : The Life of Nicholas Roerich : Artist, Himalayan explorer and visionary (2002) by Colleen Messina, p. 46
  • Ведь главная сила в человеке — это сила духа.
    • Translation: The main force in man — is the power of the spirit.
    • Variant translation: The main human strength is willpower.
    • As quoted in Essays on Marxist-Leninist Ethics [марксистско-ленинской этике] (1962) by Simon S. Utkin [Семен Семенович Уткин], p. 180
  • Our people, with their genius and their heroic work, created the Vostok spaceship, wonderful in the world, and its very smart, very reliable equipment. From the start to the very landing, I had no doubt about the successful outcome of the space flight. I would like to sincerely thank our scientists, engineers, technicians, all Soviet workers who created such a ship which allows to confidently comprehend the secrets of outer space. Let me also thank all the comrades and the whole team that prepared me for the space flight. I am convinced that all my friends, pilot-cosmonauts, are also ready to fly around our planet at any time. It is safe to say that we will fly on our more distant routes on our Soviet spacecraft. I am immensely glad that my beloved Motherland was the first in the world to make this flight, the first in the world to penetrate the Cosmos. The first plane, the first sputnik [satellite], the first cosmic spaceship and the first space flight — these are the stages of the great path of my Motherland toward the mastering the secrets of the Nature.
  • Облетев Землю в корабле-спутнике, я увидел, как прекрасна наша планета. Люди, будем хранить и преумножать эту красоту, а не разрушать её!
    • Translation: Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it!
    • Russian phrase, handwritten and signed after his historic spaceflight, photo of facsimile published in Syny goluboi planety 3rd.edition (1981) by L. Lebedev, A. Romanov, and B/ Luk'ianov; the first edition was translated into English as Sons of the Blue Planet (1973) by L. A. Lebedev
  • What beauty. I saw clouds and their light shadows on the distant dear earth.... The water looked like darkish, slightly gleaming spots.... When I watched the horizon, I saw the abrupt, contrasting transition from the earth's light-colored surface to the absolutely black sky. I enjoyed the rich color spectrum of the earth. It is surrounded by a light blue aureole that gradually darkens, becoming turquiose, dark blue, violet, and finally coal black.
    • As quoted in Earth's Aura (1977) by Louise B. Young


  • I looked and looked but I didn't see God.
    • As quoted in To Rise from Earth (1996) by Wayne Lee; some websites quote him as saying "I looked and looked and looked but I didn't see God." on 14 April 1961, a couple days after his historic flight, but the authenticity of such statements have been disputed; Colonel Valentin Petrov stated in 2006 that the cosmonaut never said such words, and that the quote originated from Nikita Khrushchev's speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU about the state's anti-religion campaign, saying "Gagarin flew into space, but didn't see any god there." Gagarin himself was a member of the Russian Orthodox Church.
    • Variant: No I didn't see God. I looked and looked but I didn't see God.
      • As quoted in What's Missing Inside You? (2006) by Paul Schlieker, p. 17


  • I see no God up here.
    • This has been reported as a remark Gagarin made while in orbit aboard Vostok 1, but there is no indication of it in the official transcripts of his communications. It is similar to the above statements he reportedly made after his return to earth, which might have given rise to this account.

Quotes about Gagarin[edit]

He was like a sound amplified by a mountain echo. The traveller is small, but the mountains are great, and suddenly they merge into a single whole. Such was Yuri Gagarin. ~ Valentina Malmy
  • Trying to describe the experience of going to space has been difficult from the very beginning. When Yuri Gagarin, the first man who went into space, returned to Earth, there was a huge reception in his honor. As his close friend and cosmonaut colleague Alexei Leonov tells it, then-premier Nikita Khrushchev cornered Gagarin "So tell me, Yuri," he asked, "did you see God up there?" After a moment's pause. Gagarin answered, "Yes sir, I did." Khrushchev frowned. "Don't tell any one," he said. A few minutes later the head of the Russian Orthodox Church took Gagarin aside. "So tell me, my child," he asked Gagarin, "did you see God up there?'" Gagarin hesitated and replied "No sir, I did not." "Don't tell anyone."
    • Anecdote in New Age Journal, Vol. 7 (1990), p. 176
  • He was like a sound amplified by a mountain echo. The traveller is small, but the mountains are great, and suddenly they merge into a single whole. Such was Yuri Gagarin.
    To accomplish a heroic exploit means to step beyond one's own sense of self-preservation, to have the courage to dare what today seems unthinkable for the majority. And to be ready to pay for it. For the hero himself, his feat is the limit of all possibilities. If he leaves something "in reserve", then the most courageous deed thereby moves into the category of work: hard, worthy of all glorification, but — work. An act of heroism is always a breakthrough into the Great Unknown. Even given most accurate preliminary calculations, man enters into that enterprise as if blindfold, full of inner tension and ready for any outcome.
    • Valentina Malmy, in Star World (1988), p. 218
  • Anton Pervushin said, “In fact, Gagarin should be remembered for completely different words. I always remember that Yuri Gagarin said: ‘An astronaut cannot be suspended in space and not have God in his mind and his heart.’”

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