First Man in Space: Vintage Soviet Propaganda Glorifying Yuri Gagarin

Rykoff Collection
Rykoff Collection
Drawn from a set exploring the young cosmonaut's origins, the photo claims to show the young man not long after he finished trade school.

Excerpts from a collection of postcards commemorating the Soviet cosmonaut’s historic journey into outer space fifty years ago.

On April 12, 1961, a young Soviet pilot named Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the earth. The trip lasted a little less than two hours, but its success had extraordinary significance for the Soviet Union, which at the time was engaged in the heated “space race” with the United States.

The cosmonaut’s heroic act was the cause of great celebration in the USSR, as the country’s state-controlled media churned out countless mementos celebrating his achievement. Not only handsome, Gagarin came complete with peasant origins, making him the ideal subject for a Soviet propaganda campaign.

Related Topics: , , , , , , ,

Latest Posts

Summer day on the French Riviera

Pictures of the Week: July 18 – July 25

From rising death toll on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the return of MH17 victims to the Netherlands, to wildfires in Washington and the fight to protect flamingos, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

Read More
Irrawaddy River

#LightBoxFF: Along For the Ride With Lauren DeCicca and Andre Malerba

Tobacco Tale

Inside Bangladesh’s Cheap Cigarette Factories