Yuri Gagarin’s Message for the World, April 12, 1961:

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“Dear Friends, known and unknown to me, my dear compatriots and all people of the world. In the next few minutes a mighty spaceship will carry me off into the distant spaces of the universe. What can I say to you during these last minutes before the start? All my life now appears as a single beautiful moment to me. All I have done and lived for has been done and lived for for this moment. It is difficult for me to analyse my feelings now that the hour of trial for which we have prepared so long and passionately, is so near. It’s hardly worth talking about the feelings I experienced when I was asked to make this first space flight in history. Joy? No, it was not only joy. Pride? No, it was not only pride. I was immensely happy to be the first in outer space, to meet nature face to face in this unusual single-handed encounter. Could I possibly have dreamed of more? Then I thought of the tremendous responsibility I had taken on: to be the first to accomplish what generations of people dreamed of: to be the first to pave the way for humanity to outer space. Can you name a more complex task than the one I am undertaking? This is a responsibility, not to one, not to many, and not to a collective group. This is a responsibility to all the Soviet people, to all of humanity, to its present and future. I know I have to summon all my will power to carry out my assignment to the best of my ability. I understand the importance of my mission and shall do all I can to fulfill the assignment for the Communist party and the Soviet people.

Only a few minutes are left before the start. I am saying goodbye to you, dear friends as people always say goodbye to each other when leaving on a long journey.”

First Orbit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKs6ikmrLgg

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