How was Yuri Gagarin brought back to the Earth?

Did he do entry himself, by ground control, or by software?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ As far I know, it happened by ground control. Gagarin could do practically nothing, essentially he was bound in a flying coffin. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Jul 20, 2020 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ Gagarin's spaceship had no computer at all, so it could not be done by flight software. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jul 20, 2020 at 13:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Uwe In a certain sense, the border between software and hardware is very blurry. Most of the flight was indeed automated, with the capsule able to receive commands from the ground, e.g. the separation command. $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Jul 20, 2020 at 13:10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @SolomonSlow By that definition most of the AGC software wouldn't be software, as it was hand-woven into core rope memory which was readable only and had to be re-wired for software changes. Of course Vostok was much more primitive than that, but that is why I said the border between just automation systems and what constitutes software is somewhat blurry. $\endgroup$
    – Polygnome
    Jul 20, 2020 at 13:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Uwe It had sort of electro-mechanical computer en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – OON
    Jul 20, 2020 at 17:19

1 Answer 1


Gagarin's Vostok 1 mission was entirely controlled by automatic systems or by ground control. In an emergency, Gagarin could have had manual control by entering a code, but he never did.

It appears the initiation of decent of Vostok 1 was done automatically,

07:25 UTC

The spacecraft's automatic systems bring it into the required attitude (orientation) for the reentry engine firing, and shortly afterwards, the engine firing occurs. This takes place over the west coast of Africa, near Angola, about 8000 km from the desired landing point. The liquid-fueled retrorockets fire for about 42 seconds.

Vostok lands successfully.

Prelaunch photos of Vostok 1

Yuri Gagarin climbing stair into Vostok 1

Yuri in Vostok 1

Yuri suiting up for Vostok 1

Erection of Vostok 1


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