Decades later, the death of Jurij Gagarin it still remains shrouded in mystery. Perhaps because the collective imagination finds it hard to believe in the human error that could have involved the first man to orbit the Earth, a human error that today seems to be the most solid theory on the matter.
Gagarin, the man who was said to have not seen God in space (but in reality he was not Nikita Khrushchev since the Russian cosmonaut was instead a fervent Orthodox Christian), he disappeared in a routine training flight on March 27, 1968. He never knew that other men went to the Moon, that Mars is “closer” and that the solar system it’s not really what he knew.
Who was Jurij Gagarin
Born in 1934, Gagarin was born in kolkhoz – the collective farm established by the Soviet – where his parents lived and worked. During World War II, their home was occupied by a Nazi soldier and his two older brothers were deported to a labor camp in Poland. After the conflict, the young Jurij engaged in studies, which however initially concentrated on the mechanics of agricultural machinery.
However, Gagarin had a dream: to fly. So he started taking a flying course and then he joined theair Forcein whose academy he graduated in 1957. But that was not enough: his intelligence, his charisma and his foresight led him to the selection for the passenger of the first spacecraft to orbit the planet, a selection that he passed after having undergone tough athletic tests , theoretical and psychological.
The cosmonaut, who following the launch, became a national hero, awarded various awards by the Soviet, was the passenger of the spaceship Vostok 1launched around the Earth for an hour and a half on April 12, 1961. The transcripts report a sentence pronounced on that occasion, which became very famous: “The sky is black, and along the edge of the Earth, near the horizon, there is a beautiful blue halo“.
However, after that first launch there were no others for Gagarin, who however became a mentor to several colleagues and naturally had a large role within the communist propaganda in the midst of the Cold War and the space race. At least until the tragedy of the launch of the Soyuz 1, on April 23, 1967, which resulted in the death of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. A little less than a year later Gagarin would also die.
The death of Jurij Gagarin
In the flight course, Gagarin had trained on Mig-15. He knew those aircraft well, but it was on one of them when he met his fate on March 27, 1968 at Chkalovsky airfield. His colleague Vladimir Aksyonov was also supposed to fly that day, but his drill was canceled. Gagarin together with co-pilot Vladimir Seryogin instead would have carried out theirs.
“Jurij and me – told a Phys Aksyonov – we consulted the same doctors and heard the same weather forecasts, my take off was supposed to be an hour after hers“. Leaving at 10.18, Gagarin and the co-pilot no longer answered radio communications at 10.30: the remains of the aircraft were found 65 kilometers from the starting point, Gagarin’s body further away, only the day after the disaster. But what happened in those few minutes?
The theories about the accident
There are official accounts and plausible or imaginative theories about Jurij Gagarin’s demise. Of course, the fanciful ones are the most fascinating, because they give the idea of how much the mysteries ofSoviet Union during the Cold War are imprinted in everyone’s imagination as knots that will never be untied. In fact, among the theories there are some conspiracies: tampering, sabotage, intoxication of the pilots and more, however, have always been firmly denied by the Kgb. As it seems unlikely that the plane crash involving Gagarin was caused by the fact that the plane hit one or more animals.
In 2003, as reported Spacedocuments have been declassified that give a picture of what may have actually happened: air traffic controllers would have provided pilots bad weather data that would have been obsolete. So Gagarin and the co-pilot would have faced an unusual cloud bank and their perception of the height of the flight path would have been wrong. Then there is another document, however, from 2013, which speaks of a Sukhoi supersonic jet unauthorized that would have flown close, too close, to the aircraft guided by Gagarin, which would then have gone haywire. The name of the Sukhoi driver was never revealed.
Whatever the real cause of the plane crash, the undeniable fact remains that Gagarin represented a strange myth for the world: at the time of his space enterprise he was a hero for the Communists, for the Americans an uncomfortably too popular character. Monuments have been named after him especially in Russia but also in many other parts of the world and even one crater on the moon.
It is said that David Bowiein ’69, a year after Gagarin’s death, was also inspired by his words for a verse of the song “Space Oddity”: “Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do“. As the song says, there is nothing that can be done, perhaps the mystery of Gagarin’s death will never be known and the proverbial secrecy of the Soviet Union certainly does not help to counter the conspiracy hypotheses. But this is also the fascination that involves the characters who made history.