Revelations from Secret Documents Soviets Risked Gagarin's Life for First Space Flight

Previously secret documents reveal that the Soviets were willing to risk the life of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in the rush to beat the Americans into space. They show a series of defects that happened during the first manned space flight on April 12, 1961 -- including Gagarin almost not being able to open the breathing valve on his spacesuit.
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (seen here in London in July 1961) made the first manned space flight on April 12, 1961.

Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (seen here in London in July 1961) made the first manned space flight on April 12, 1961.

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Photo Gallery: A National Hero and a Role Model
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Photo Gallery: A National Hero and a Role Model

Translated from the German by Ella Ornstein
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