Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space on board Vostok 1 on the morning of April 12, 1961.
The event is celebrated as Yuri’s Night around the world each April. The 2020 celebration is a virtual World Space Party at https://party.yurisnight.net/ due to the covid-19 pandemic. The Yuri’s Night webcast on youtube will connect Yuri’s Night fans around the world to dozens of astronauts, celebrities, musicians, space professionals and more in a huge celebration of humanity & human spaceflight worldwide.
“Circling the Earth in my orbital spaceship I marveled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty — not destroy it!”— Yuri Gagarin
Cosmonauts were chosen not only for their excellence in training but also for their short stature because the cockpit was small. Gagarin was 1.57 meters or 5 feet 2 inches tall.
Legend says that Gagarin had to relieve himself on the way to the launch pad. Modern (male) cosmonauts have done so as well: They leave the bus and relieve themselves at the left back wheel of the bus. A new space suit design might mean and end to this tradition.
Vostok 1 made one complete orbit of the Earth that took 108 minutes. The first American in space was Alan Shepard’s aboard the Freedom 7 Mercury capsule. Shepard’s craft entered space, but was not capable of achieving orbit.
Gagarin ejected from the space capsule when it was still 7 km from the ground. He then deployed a parachute at 2.5 km in altitude.
A farmer and her daughter came upon Gagarin after his landing. Dressed in his orange spacesuit and dragging his parachute, he told them “don’t be afraid, I am a Soviet like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!”
A crater on the Moon is named for Gagarin, as is asteroid 1772 Gagarin.
The following infographic from space.com has more on how the first human spaceflight worked.