I'm currently reading a dutch book about the earlier days of manned spaceflight (Ruimtevaart B. van der Klaauw). Published in 1962

In a chapter about Vostok 1 the book reads as following

Translated Dutch to English

There seems to be some confusion about the messages received about the landing. First there were claims that Gagarin had ejected from the capsule at a specific height, but there were also claims that he landed on the ground while still being seated inside the capsule. We know the Vostok was equiped with an ejection system but we now know Gagarin did not make use of it

As we all know by now in 2021 Gagarin did make use of the ejection system, but why does this book say otherwise. Was it first not known publicly that Gagarin did indeed ejected?

The book does later state that Titov made use of the ejection seat on Vostok 2

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "As we all know by now in 2021 ... Was it first not known publicly that Gagarin did indeed ejected?" Obviously not; otherwise the USSR would not have claimed that Gagarin orbited the Earth. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Aug 9, 2021 at 15:52

2 Answers 2


Initially, the USSR insisted that Gagarin had landed with the spacecraft, because of requirements for FAI certification of spaceflight records:

One of the stipulations for spaceflight requires that the pilot should land inside their craft in order for the record to be valid. This requirement was created to prevent pilots from flying crafts that could not be safely land[ed].

After the Vostok 2 flight, Gherman Titov acknowledged that he had ejected from his spacecraft, which called into question the claim that Gagarin had landed with Vostok 1. Rather than challenging Gagarin's FAI spaceflight certification, the FAI simply changed their rules so as to let Gagarin's record stand regardless of whether he'd ejected or not. In 1971, the USSR admitted that Gagarin had ejected.

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    $\begingroup$ very possibly the author knew the truth, but chose to not publish it so as to retain approval of the soviet union. The kremlin insisted that Gagarin did not parachute, until 1972. In 1962, at the height of the Cold War, publishing something so directly against the USSR would have been seen as a strong political statement. $\endgroup$ Aug 8, 2021 at 18:49

We know that the ejection seat landed separately from Gagarin. Gagarin could land in the seat but choose to use personal parachute. I do not know whether he ejected in the seat and then separated from it or just made the empty seat eject and then jumped with parachute. If the later is true, this can explain the book's claim.


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