Today marks 60 years since the Soviet cosmonaut Gagarin shocked the world as he became the first man to reach space. Murals, statues, and other public displays of gratitude were erected in the years following the feat of human ingenuity and exploration. He quickly became a national hero for what was then the USSR, and to this day remains an iconic figure for Russia.
In the US, the country's space agency, NASA, was left dumbstruck.
NASA astronaut Charles Duke, who walked on the Moon during the Apollo 16 mission in 1972, said it was a defining moment for the outfit.
In 2011, he told the BBC: "I was a young fighter pilot in Germany I was flying F-102s in Rammstein Germany.
"We were more focused on the building of the Berlin Wall that year, rather than the space race.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Yuri Gagarin: The Russian became the first man to reach space (Image: GETTY)
Space news: The cosmonaut was immediately transformed into a national hero (Image: GETTY)
"When he flew, my first impression was - well, they beat us again."
Yet for all the celebrations, many have questioned the success of Gagarin and Soviet Russia.
A book published on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the launch in 2011 revealed how scientists twice miscalculated where the astronaut would land - explaining why there was nobody there to meet him when he touched down around 500 miles south of Moscow on April 12, 1961.
Titled, '108 Minutes That Changed the World', it claims that the Soviet writing surrounding the landing was "far from the truth" and in fact obscured the reality of the mission.
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Russia: A statue commemorating Gagarin in Moscow (Image: GETTY)
The book said: "For many years Soviet