Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (Russian: Ю́рий Алексе́евич Гага́рин, Russian pronunciation: [ˈjurʲɪj ɐlʲɪˈksʲeɪvʲɪtɕ ɡɐˈɡarʲɪn]; 9 March 1934 – 27 March 1968), Hero of the Soviet Union, was a Soviet cosmonaut. On 12 April 1961, he became the first human in outer space and the first to orbit the Earth. He received medals from around the world for his pioneering tour in space. On 12 April 1961, Gagarin became the first man to travel into space, launching to orbit aboard the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1). His call sign in this flight was Kedr (Cedar; Russian: Кедр). During his flight, Gagarin famously whistled the tune “The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows” (Russian: “Родина слышит, Родина знает”). The first two lines of the song are: “The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky”. This patriotic song was written by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1951 (opus 86), with words by Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky.
Around the same time, some Western sources claimed that Gagarin, during his space flight, had made the comment, “I don’t see any God up here.” However, no such words appear in the verbatim record of Gagarin’s conversations with the Earth during the spaceflight. In a 2006 interview a close friend of Gagarin, Colonel Valentin Petrov, stated that Gagarin never said such words, and that the phrase originated from Nikita Khrushchev’s speech at the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, where the anti-religious propaganda was discussed. In a certain context Khrushchev said, “Gagarin flew into space, but didn’t see any God there”. Colonel Petrov also said that Gagarin had been baptised into the Orthodox Church as a child.
“ The Earth is blue. How wonderful. It is amazing. ”
—Gagarin, to ground control.