On this day: April 12

POSTED: 02:42 PM PDT Apr 09, 2013    UPDATED: 11:00 PM PDT Apr 11, 2013 

The American Civil War begins, FDR dies, a Soviet cosmonaut becomes the first human to travel into space, and the first space shuttle lifts off, all on this day.

OTD April 12 - Yuri Gagarin
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Alexander Natruskin/Reuters

1961: The Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human to travel into outer space and perform the first manned orbital flight, circling the Earth once in the Vostok 1 spacecraft in one hour and 29 minutes at a maximum altitude of 187 miles. He never went into space again, instead touring the Soviet Union and training other pilots. Gagarin died at the age of 34 on March 27, 1968, along with another pilot in the crash of a two-seat jet aircraft while on what was described as a routine training flight.

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