ON PREVIOUS DAYS:

ON THIS DAY
The First Man in Space

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin left Kazakhstan for space on 12th April, 1961 – the first human to venture beyond the confines of Earth’s atmosphere. As the rocket roared into the sky, Gagarin’s now-famous exclamation of “Poyekhali!” (“Let’s go!”) echoed through the cockpit.

Despite the anticipation surrounding Gagarin’s historic flight, the actual experience was relatively brief, lasting a mere 108 minutes. Within that fleeting window, Gagarin’s calm demeanour belied the inherent dangers of space travel, as he navigated weightlessness and unfamiliar conditions. Upon reentry, he faced a harrowing ordeal as technical malfunctions threatened his safe return to Earth. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explore how Gagarin’s status as a national hero propelled him into the spotlight, yet suppressed his subsequent career trajectory; explain why it was not his ability as a pilot, but his diminutive height, which was most prized in the Sputnik programme; and reveal how his diplomatic world tour took him to the United States, yet without setting foot on U.S. soil… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Yuri Gagarin: The first human in space’ (New Scientist): https://www.newscientist.com/people/yuri-gagarin/

• ‘”Let’s go!” — Remembering Yuri Gagarin, 60 years on’ (Astronomy Magazine, 2021): https://www.astronomy.com/space-exploration/lets-go-remembering-yuri-gagarins-first-spaceflight-60-years-later/

• ‘Yuri Gagarin Became The First Human In Space, 57 Years Ago Today’ (NBC News, 2018):

ON THIS DAY
The First Man in Space

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin left Kazakhstan for space on 12th April, 1961 – the first human to venture beyond the confines of Earth’s atmosphere. As the rocket roared into the sky, Gagarin’s now-famous exclamation of “Poyekhali!” (“Let’s go!”) echoed through the cockpit.

Despite the anticipation surrounding Gagarin’s historic flight, the actual experience was relatively brief, lasting a mere 108 minutes. Within that fleeting window, Gagarin’s calm demeanour belied the inherent dangers of space travel, as he navigated weightlessness and unfamiliar conditions. Upon reentry, he faced a harrowing ordeal as technical malfunctions threatened his safe return to Earth. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explore how Gagarin’s status as a national hero propelled him into the spotlight, yet suppressed his subsequent career trajectory; explain why it was not his ability as a pilot, but his diminutive height, which was most prized in the Sputnik programme; and reveal how his diplomatic world tour took him to the United States, yet without setting foot on U.S. soil… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Yuri Gagarin: The first human in space’ (New Scientist): https://www.newscientist.com/people/yuri-gagarin/

• ‘”Let’s go!” — Remembering Yuri Gagarin, 60 years on’ (Astronomy Magazine, 2021): https://www.astronomy.com/space-exploration/lets-go-remembering-yuri-gagarins-first-spaceflight-60-years-later/

• ‘Yuri Gagarin Became The First Human In Space, 57 Years Ago Today’ (NBC News, 2018):

ON PREVIOUS DAYS:




Join Club Retrospectors

Ditch the ads and get an exclusive Sunday episode every week – all when you join Club Retrospectors on Apple Podcasts.

On our Patreon, there’s three tiers to choose from, each with their own wonderful perks, from ad-free versions to BIRTHDAY SURPRISES.

OLLY MANN

Olly Mann made his name with another trivia-wielding podcast, Answer Me This! with Helen Zaltzman – and now presents The Modern Mann, The Week Unwrapped, and Four Thought for BBC Radio Four. He also has an A-Level in History, so Dan Snow beware.

REBECCA MESSINA

Rebecca got a passion for podcasting  working at The Week magazine and a passion for trivia appearing on University Challenge in 2011, making The Retrospectors her natural home.

ARION MCNICOLL

Arion started out in satirical news in Australia, then moved to the UK to work for ostensibly serious publications including The Times, CNN, and The Week… before realising that since around 2016 the news has all been satire really.

Do you have a day of note that we should cover? Or would you or your business like to support the podcast? Get in touch!

    12 Apr: The First Man in Space

    Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin left Kazakhstan for space on 12th April, 1961 - the first human to venture beyond the confines of Earth's atmosphere. As the rocket roared into the sky, Gagarin's now-famous exclamation of "Poyekhali!" ("Let's go!") echoed through the cockpit.Despite the anticipation surrounding Gagarin's historic flight, the actual…

    11 Apr: Let's Go To Butlin's

    Rerun: The first holiday camp in Britain, Butlin’s Skegness, opened to the public on 11th April, 1936 - although one member of the public, a certain Freda Monk from Nottingham, was so keen to attend that she arrived a day early. It cost 35 shillings per week to attend. South Africa-born…

    10 Apr: Yes, We Have Bananas

    Bananas, the world’s favourite fruit, were first displayed in London on 10th April, 1633, in the shop window of botanist Thomas Johnson, editor for Gerard’s Herball.Despite societal taboos surrounding the banana's suggestive shape, its journey from obscurity to ubiquity was later propelled by Minor Cooper Keith, whose entrepreneurial endeavours in…

    9 Apr: Charles and Camilla's Wedding

    Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles broke royal norms by having a modest civil ceremony at Windsor's Guildhall on 9th April, 2005. Against a turbulent backdrop of past scandals and public opinion, the couple's union marked a delicate dance toward Britain’s eventual acceptance of them as King and Queen.Queen Elizabeth…

    8 Apr: The Nudge Revolution

    Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler’s bestseller ‘Nudge’ was released on 8th April, 2008, catapulting a new method of behavioural economics into the public psyche - and the hands of policymakers, including David Cameron and Barack Obama.The book challenged the notion of humans as rational decision-makers, and explained how companies, governments…