Fifty years ago today, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter outer space. In doing so, he didn’t just take humanity into a bold new era of exploration – he also got to see our planet in a way no one else ever had before.
There aren’t any photos of the Earth from Gagarin’s Vostok 1 mission, so this photo taken on the International Space Station back in 2003 will have to serve as a proxy. For his part, Gagarin offered this simple description of what he saw high above our world: “The sky is very dark; the Earth is bluish. Everything is seen very clearly.”
Gagarin’s spaceflight took him 322km up, and he completed one orbit before coming back to Earth. Gagarin’s historic mission on April 12, 1961 would be his only trip into space, in part because of his tragic death in a plane crash in 1968.