On 12 April 1961 Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space when he orbited the Earth once during a 108 minute flight. In 1960 Gagarin, a fighter pilot, was shortlisted for the Vostok 1 programme, which built on the success of Sputnik 1 just three years earlier. German Titov was Gagarin's closest rival for selection - both men tried to impress space programme director Sergei Korolev.
Sergei Korolev (1906 - 1966) Rocket Designer, Engineer, Space Pioneer. He was the head of the Soviet Space Program during the 1950s and 1960s, overseeing the Sputnik, Luna, Verena, Vostok and Soyuz space missions.
RUSSIAN SPACE FIRSTS ~ Sergei Pavlovich Korolev (1907-1966) is widely regarded as the founder of the Soviet space program. He led the development of the world's first ballistic missile, known today as the R-7, which became a base for a long-lasting family of space boosters, carrying Russian cosmonauts into orbit for decades to come.