Soviet Union lied on Gagarin space mission: Book

The Soviet Union portrayed the mission-1st manned flight into space in 1961-as "glitch-free triumph".

Updated: Apr 01, 2011, 09:55 AM IST

London: Officials of the erstwhile Soviet Union "lied" about the success of the historic flight into space that carried Yuri Gagarin by covering up the fact that he landed over 300 km away from where he was expected, says a new book.
The Soviet Union portrayed the mission - the first manned flight into space in 1961 - as a "glitch-free triumph".

However, a new book - titled "108 Minutes That Changed the World" - published on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin`s flight says that scientists twice miscalculated where he would land.

That was why there was nobody there to meet Gagarin when he finally touched down, the Daily Telegraph reported.

"For many years Soviet literature claimed that Yuri Gagarin and his Vostok landing capsule had come down in the area it was supposed to," says the book.

"This information was far from the truth," it said, adding that space experts were expecting him to land almost 250 miles further south.

"So it turned out that nobody was waiting or looking for Yuri Gagarin. Therefore the first thing he had to do after landing was set off to look for people and communications so he could tell the leadership where he was."

The Soviets also lied about the manner of his landing. They said he had touched down inside the capsule itself when in fact he landed separately via parachute.

The reason the experts lied was because of rules that would have prevented them from officially registering the flight as a world record, says the book.

The book by Russian journalist Anton Pervushin published a letter Gagarin wrote to his family before the mission in which he thought about his own mortality, telling his wife not to "die of grief" if he never returned.

Gagarin said he hoped they would never have to read his words.

"But sometimes people slip on even ground and break their neck," he wrote.

"Something could also happen here. If it does I ask you Valyusha (his wife) not to die of grief. After all life is life and there is no guarantee for anybody that tomorrow a car might not end ones life," the letter said.

In 1957, Soviets had sent a dog named Laika into space only to see her die within hours from overheating.

Gagarin`s wife finally got to read his letter in 1968 after his tragic death in a plane crash at the age of 34.