Sixty-two years ago, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to go into orbit. Before getting into the Vostok 1 spacecraft, the Russian cosmonaut wrote a letter to his wife and daughters for them to read if he happened to perish during the mission.
My dear beloved Valechka, Lenochka, and Galochka!
I decided to write you a few lines to share with you the joy and happiness that befell me today. Today the government commission decided to send me to the first spaceflight. I am so glad, dear Valiusha, and I want you to share this joy with me. An ordinary man, I have been trusted with an important national mission—to pave the first road into space!
I fully trust the technology. It should not fail. But it sometimes happens that a man falls and breaks his neck with no reason at all. Something may happen here too. I do not believe it will happen. But if it does, I ask all of you and especially you, Valiusha—do not be overcome with grief. Such is life. Please take care of our girls and love them just like I do. Please raise them as true human beings who are not afraid of the challenges of life. Raise them as people who will deserve to live a new communist society.
This letter is coming out a bit too gloomy. I do not believe in this bad outcome. I hope you will never see this letter, and I will feel ashamed for this momentary weakness. But if something happens, you must know the whole truth
When I was a child, I once read the words of Valerii Chkalov, "If you are to be, be the first." So I try, and I will to the end. Valechka, I wish to dedicate this flight to the people of the new communist society, which we are already entering, to our great Motherland, and to our science
I hope in a few days we will be together again, and we will be happy. Valechka, please, do not forget my parents, and if you have an opportunity, help them somehow. Give them my warm greetings, and let them forgive me for not telling them about this, for they were not supposed to know. This is it, I think.
Good bye, my dears. I hug you tightly and kiss you.
Your daddy and Yura
The flight was a success. While the spacecraft orbited Earth, Gagarin radioed ground control: "I feel splendid, very well, very well, very well!" After slightly more than one hour in orbit, the spacecraft began its descent. Gagarin ejected from the spacecraft and parachuted to Earth.