Yuri Gagarin’s first space flight did not go as planned.
. Soviets Lied About Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 First Space Flight
Officials in the Soviet Union lied about the success of Yuri Gagarin’s historic 1961 space flight and covered up the fact he landed more than 200 miles away from where he was supposed to.
The Soviets touted his mission, the first manned flight into space, as a “major Cold War propaganda coup, portraying it as a glitch-free triumph of Communist ideology,” The Telegraph in Britain observed.
But a new book published on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s flight discloses that Soviet scientists miscalculated where he would land after his one orbit of the earth, and there was no one on the ground to meet him when he arrived some 500 miles south of Moscow.
“For many years, Soviet literature claimed that Yuri Gagarin and his Vostok landing capsule had come down in the area it was supposed to,” according to the book, “108 Minutes That Changed the World” by Russian journalist Anton Pervushin.
But this was “far from the truth,” he writes, explaining that Soviet scientists had expected him to land nearly 250 miles farther south.
“So it turned out that nobody was waiting or looking for Yuri Gagarin. Therefore the first thing he had to do after landing was set off to look for people and communications so he could tell the leadership where he was.”
The Soviets also lied when they claimed Gagarin had touched down inside the capsule, when in fact he landed separately via a parachute, the author adds.
The book also reveals that before his flight, Gagarin wrote a letter to be given to his family if his mission proved fatal, telling his wife not to “die of grief” if he did not return alive.
Gagarin’s wife did not get to read the letter until 1968, after Gagarin’s death at the age of 34 in a plane crash whose cause has never been positively determined.