The Mysterious Death of the First Man in Space

On April 12, 1961–55 years ago today — Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin launched into the great beyond, becoming the first human in space. When he came back to Earth, Gagarin was looked upon as not just a hero, but the very embodiment of the Soviet Union’s power. Streets were named after him. Monuments were erected. Khrushchev called him the Russian Christopher Columbus. And then he was gone. Less than seven years after his history-making mission, Gagarin died in a plane crash at only…

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