A 2011 Italian postage stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s space flight.
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968) was a Russian pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961. After being the first human in the space, Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and titles, including Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation’s highest honour. Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission, which ended in a fatal crash: on 27 March 1968, while on a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base, he and flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died in a MiG-15UTI crash near the town of Kirzhach. The bodies of Gagarin and Seryogin were cremated and the ashes were buried in the walls of the Kremlin on Red Square in Moscow.