Continuation. Please go here for the beginning
«Zarya» asked what I saw below. I said that our planet looks almost the same as when you see it from a jet flying high above the Earth. Mountain chains, big rivers, large woods, groups of islands, coastlines were distinctly seen. I
saw clouds and light shadows on the far dear Earth.
For a moment a son of a farmer awakened in me. The absolutely black sky looked like a fallow field being sown with seeds of stars…
I wanted to observe the Moon, to learn how it looked in the space. But, unfortunately, its crescent was out of my sight during the flight. “Anyway, – I thought, – I will see it during the next flight”.
The spaceship entered the side of our Planet which was not lit up by the Sun. Immediately it became absolutely dark…
At 9:51 the automatic system of orientation switched on. After the “Vostok” had left the shadow side, there appeared the rays of the Sun shining through the atmosphere of the Earth. The horizon became bright orange gradually turning into all the colors of the rainbow: light blue, dark blue, violet, black. Indescribable colour spectrum! Like in the paintings by Rerikh!
9:52 am. I reported that everything was fine, I felt good, the board equipment worked well.
The “Vostok” was going at the speed of 28 000 km per hour. It was difficult to imagine such a speed on the Earth. I felt neither hunger nor thirst during the flight. But according to the program I ate and drank from the special water-supply system at the established time. I ate the food developed by the Academy of Medical Science. I ate in the same way as on the Earth but there was one problem: I was not allowed to open my mouth wide. And even though I knew that my organism was being examined on the Earth, from time to time I listened to my heart. In the conditions of weightlessness the pulse and breathing were normal, I felt good, my thinking and capacity for work were the same as on the Earth.
Y. Gagarin with his family
At 10:15 am, when approaching the African continent, the commands to prepare the spaceship equipment for turning the brake engine on came from the automatic program device. A thought occurred to me that somewhere there, below, there was the top of Kilimanjaro described in the poem “Kilimanjaro Snows” by Ernest Hemingway.
But I did not have time for reflections. The final stage of the flight – returning to the Earth – should start very soon. And it was, perhaps, even more responsible than when entering the orbit.
I started preparing for it. The transition from the state of weightlessness to new, may be stronger, positive g forces and extreme heating of the exterior hull should take place when the spaceship entered the denser layers of the atmosphere.
Until now everything has been as we approximately expected when working it out during the trainings on the Earth. And how will it be at the last, final, stage?
At 10:25 the automatic turning on of the brake device took place. The spaceship began to slow down. It left the orbit for the transitional ellipse. The spaceship started entering the dense layers of the atmosphere. Its exterior hull was getting hot very quickly and through the blinds which covered the bull-eyes I could see a bit terrifying crimson reflection of the flame raging around the spaceship. But it was only 20 degrees above zero in the cabin though I was in a ball of fire falling down.
The state of weightlessness disappeared and the positive g forces pressed me into the chair. They were increasing and were even stronger than when the spaceship had been taking off. The ship started rotating and I reported about it to the Earth. But the rotation which worried me ended very quickly and then everything was fine. It was clear that all the systems had been working all right and the ship was going exactly to its destination. As happiness was overfilling me I started to sing my favourite song:
The mother-land hears,
The mother-land knows…
10 thousand meters are left… Nine thousand meters… Eight… Seven…
Y. Gagarin in England (after his first flight into the Space)
At 7 thousand meters the separation of the lid of hatch number 1 takes place: a crack and there is no lid any more. I am sitting and thinking if it was me who ejected – quickly and softly. I flew out with the chair. The stabilizing parachute opens. But I start rotating because of that stabilizing parachute.
I saw a big river – the Volga (I thought so as there should not be any other big river there). Then I saw a big city on the two banks of the river. The place seemed familiar. As the ejection happened above the bank I thought that the wind would drive me close to the water and I would land into the water. The stabilizing parachute uncoupled and the main parachute took its place. But suddenly the emergency parachute also opened, as I first thought. It opened and hung. Then it turned out that only the backpack opened, not the parachute itself.
It was a new danger, an awful danger.
There were some little clouds and the wind blew a little bit in the clouds – the second parachute really opened that time and the wind filled it with the air. I was going down on two parachutes now… Two open parachutes – a very dangerous situation. But it was not the only problem. The valve that provided me with the air for breathing also opened under my spacesuit…
I opened the helmet only being already on the ground: I landed with the blind closed. Having stepped onto the hard ground I saw a woman with a girl standing near a spotted calf and looking with interest at me. I went towards them. They also went towards me. But the closer they came, the slower their steps became. I was dressed in my orange space-suit and its strange look frightened them a little bit. They had never seen anything like that before.
– I am one of yours, comrades! –feeling the coolness of excitement I cried out taking off the hermetic helmet.
Demonstration in honour of Yury Gagarin in Moscow, Russia
Demonstration in Honour of Y. Gagarin in Prague
(Based on the book by Yury Gagarin “The Way to the Space”, 1961)