Yuri Gargarin and family. Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968, right), soviet cosmonaut and first man in space, with his daughter Galya (center) and wife Valentina (left) whilst on holiday in Crimea. Gagarin made the first manned space flight on 12 April 1961. He orbited the Earth once in the Vostok 1 spacecraft, a flight that lasted 1 hour and 48 minutes. Gagarin became a hero in the Soviet Union and famous worldwide. He later returned to active service as a test pilot, dying in a crash during a training flight in 1968. His ashes were interred with full military honours in the Kremlin Wall.