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Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, gets the Google Doodle treatment 50 years later

Yuri Gagarin, fifty years ago, Russian air force pilot Yuri Gagarin blasted off on the first manned space flight in history. His interactive, Soviet-inspired Google Doodle delights all who dream of worlds beyond our own.

By Maud Dillingham / April 12, 2011

On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin took the first manned flight to space. Here is his Google Doodle.

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Today’s spacey Google Doodle has a Russian accent. Honored is Yuri Gagarin, the first human to fly into outer space. The interactive doodle features a stylized design reminiscent of Soviet posters, with one “o” in the form of the cosmonaut’s helmet, and the other a planet which, when you mouse over it, reveals a rocket blasting off.

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Google – which has been commemorating various holidays, events, and people over the years with doodles created by the company’s artistically-inclined webmaster, Dennis Hwang ­– has had other space themes, including the Hubble Telescope’s 20th anniversary and the discovery of water on the moon.

Clicking on today’s doodle takes you to Yuri Gagarin Google search results, starting with news items and followed by his Wikipedia entry, which details his 108-minute orbital flight.

Were the first manned flight to outer space to happen now, perhaps Mr. Gagarin would avail himself of a Twitter account. “I’ve still got all my marbles,” he might have written. “My eyes are not turning to jelly.” (These were just two of the fears people had about space flight in the 1961. One can only imagine what fears Gagarin himself had, hurtling off into the unknown.)

An air force pilot, Gagarin did not operate the Vostok 1, although if the automatic pilot functions had failed, he was trained to use the controls. Seven years later, the space pioneer died at the age of 34 when the MiG 15 training jet he was flying crashed. Gagarin will go down in history not only as a Hero of the Soviet Union, but an inspiration to all who dream of worlds beyond our own.

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