The man who fell to earth has come to rest on the Mall in London. Half a century after the Russian Yuri Gagarin became the first human to see our small blue globe from outer space, his daughter Elena Gagarina unveiled his statue on the spot where cheering crowds gathered to greet the hero on 14 July 1961.
The statue shows Gagarin standing on the globe in his spacesuit, and was cast from the original mould by the artist Anatoly Novikov, for a statue commissioned in the small Russian town of Lyubertsy where Gagarin trained as a foundry worker. It has come to London as a gift from the Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, and stands opposite the statue of another great explorer, Captain Cook, outside the British Council’s offices where there is also an exhibition of extraordinary objects and images which have never left Russia before, including space food, a flight seat for a dog, and Gagarin’s anti-gravity training harness and seat.
“It is a great event, important not only for my family and my country, but for all the people – 50 years ago a new era began,” Gagarina said.