His return was harrowing, however. During the reentry phase of the flight, Gagarin's capsule didn't release from an equipment module from Vostok 1 when planned, causing both to tumble for about 10 minutes--until wires holding them together burned through.
When planning the mission, Russian scientists were worried that they couldn't slow down Gagarin's capsule enough to make a safe landing, so they had him eject from the rocket and land using a parachute.
October 1, 2007 4:00 AM PDT
Photo by: NASA
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