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Old 04-13-2011, 05:45 AM
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The historic space shot turned Gagarin into an instant celebrity whose boyish charms became a powerful propaganda weapon for the Soviet Union as it scrambled to win its ideological battle against the United States during the Cold War.

Photo: The world's first cosmonaut Major Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union receives a bouquet of flowers from a little girl on arrival at the Soviet Embassy in London on July 11, 1961. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:45 AM
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His boy-next-door grin and outsized helmet became a staple of Soviet stamps while his heroism turned into a subject of elementary school literature that became comparable to the teachings of Lenin.

Photo: 27-year old Soviet cosmonaut Major Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (1934 - 1968) on his way to his spaceship Vostok, in which he made the first ever manned space flight. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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Old 04-13-2011, 05:46 AM
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Gagarin is best remembered by a generation of Russian for pronouncing "Poyekhali!" as his Vostok spacecraft lifted off the ground.

Soviet President Nikita S Khrushchev (1894-1971), Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968) and Major Gherman S Titov (1935-2000), the first and second Russian cosmonauts, and Titov's wife Tamara wave to the crowds in Moscow. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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