On April 12, 1961—55 years ago —Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin launched into the great beyond, becoming the first human in space. When he came back to Earth, Gagarin was looked upon as not just a hero, but the very embodiment of the Soviet Union’s power. Streets were named after him. Monuments were erected. Khrushchev called him the Russian Christopher Columbus.
And then he was gone.
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Source Credits: Matt Blitz in Popular Mechanics.