1970s commemorative Soviet metal pin of Yuri Gagarin (Юрий Гагарин). Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut who became the first human to journey into outer space, achieving a major milestone in the Space Race. His capsule, Vostok 1, was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome and completed one orbit of Earth on 12 April 1961. Gagarin became an international celebrity and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, his nation's highest honour.
Gagarin's farewell to the launch control room using the informal phrase Poyekhali! (Поехали!, 'Off we go!') later became a popular expression in the Eastern Bloc that was used to refer to the beginning of the Space Age.
On March 27, 1968, Yuri Gagarin died together with pilot Vladimir Seryogin during a routine training flight, after the MiG-15 jet fighter they were flying crashed near Novosyolovo in the Soviet Union. After his death, the Soviet government declared a period of national mourning in the memory of Gagarin. This was the first case in Soviet history where a day of national mourning was declared after the death of a person while performing work for the state and was the first time it happened for someone who wasn't a head of state.
1.7 x 1.7 cm