The 1960's
Yuri Gagarin - First Man in Space

Yuri Gagarin - First Man in Space
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.12

     challenging words:    reentry, test-pilot, historic, aircraft, russian, launched, take-off, atmosphere, newly, orbit, endure, capsule, satellite, bravery, education, extremely
     content words:    United States, Soviet Union, Yuri Gagarin, Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin, Soviet Air Force, Space Race, Air Force

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Yuri Gagarin - First Man in Space
By Jane Runyon

1     The race into space between the United States and the Soviet Union was in full swing in the early 1960s. Both countries had successfully launched artificial satellites into space. These satellites had orbited around the Earth. The Soviet Union had successfully launched a living being into space. It had put a dog named Laika into orbit around the Earth. The Sputnik satellite carrying Laika orbited the Earth for 163 days beginning in late 1957. Laika, however, died about a week into the trip. There was no known way of retrieving an orbital satellite at that time. It was not a surprise to the Soviets that she did not survive.
2     The next step in the quest to conquer space would be to put a human being into orbit. No one knew for sure what effect space travel would have on humans. Would weightlessness affect how the human brain worked? Would the pressure at take-off keep a man from being able to do the tasks that needed to be done? There were no volunteers in the Soviet Union who wanted to find out. None, that is, until Yuri Gagarin stepped up.
3     Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin was born to a collective farm carpenter and his wife. The farm was west of Moscow. Yuri had no desire to become a carpenter. He went to technical school and studied how to use metals. He decided to pursue a higher education by going to an industrial college. It was while he was in college that he developed a love of planes. He wanted to learn everything he could about flying. After college he joined the Soviet Air Force. He very quickly became the best pilot they had. He became a test-pilot. He loved flying newly invented aircraft to see if they would work.

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