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Gravity Free

FRANCE PRESSEWhen the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin said that mythical phrase “The Earth is blue”, he knew that he was making history. By orbiting the planet for 108 minutes, at a height of between 181 and 327 kilometers, at the speed of 28,968 km/h on the 12th of April 1961, Gagarin liberated mankind from the barrier of gravity and showed that it was also possible to overcome obstacles in space. It is true that he almost lost the first pioneering flight to his colleague Gherman Stepanovich Titov. By the official version, Gagarin was chosen as he was much better prepared than Titov. However, it has also been said that the preference was given to him because of his proletarian origins. Born in Gzhatsk, a village 160 kilometers away from Moscow in Russia, his father was a carpenter on one of the numerous collective farms that were common at that time.

The fact that the cosmonaut had managed to study had reached the rank of major in the Air Force, and afterwards had become one of the foremost pilots of the Russian space program through his own merits, was considered evidence that the socialist model was right. Though equally competent, Titov was from the Russian intellectual class, coming from a family of teachers. Anyhow, he had his moment of glory when in August of 1961, he was the first man to remain in space for more than 24 hours. The pioneering deed of Gagarin, at that time 27 years of age, made him a revered celebrity throughout the world. He journeyed through 28 countries, including Brazil, and was applauded by millions of people and nicknamed the “Columbus of space.”

He died in 1968 at 34 years of age, when he was on a training flight in a MIG-15. In his trips, Gagarin carried with him the triumph of the ex-Soviet Union (USSR), which was always a few steps ahead of the United States (USA) in the area of space until the middle of the decade of the 60’s. Back at the beginning of the 20th century, the Russian Constantin Tsiolkowsky (an Gagarin’s idol) drew up the basis for the modern astronautics. After World War II, the Soviets sent into space Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in 1957, the dog Laika in1958 and the first man in 1961. The North Americans began to recover the lost ground in 1965, when a mission remained for eight days in space.

At that time the ideological question between the USA and the USSR overshadowed the important technological advances that had become possible thanks to the immense investment made in this area. The exploration of space was the greatest stimulus for the miniaturizing of equipment and for the development of information technology and personal computers.