Wostok-1 helmet


The first man to leave 'the cradle of mankind', Yuri Gagarin, did not wear patches on his bright orange SK-1 pressure suite. The only 'art' that accompanied him om April 12, 1961, were the big red letters CCCP on his white helmet. There is an interesting story behind this!

,,...On the launch day, work in the Zvezda laboratory started 5 hours before the launch. Gagarin and G.S. Titov accompanied by their instructors and heads arrived about 4 hours before the launch. The cosmonauts underwent a medical check-up, and after that spacesuit donning began.

Having put the suits on, the cosmonauts waited in test seats in the next room. This was when Yu. A. Gagarin gave his last interview before the mission, talking to S.P. Korolev, who specially came from the launch pad for that purpose. He also signed his first ever autographs.

Moreover, to identify the nation that the pilot belonged to, the decision was made to paint CCCP (USSR) on the helmet. This last-minute decision was made after Gagarin had already donned the spacesuit. It was Zvezda-engineer Victor Davidyants who painted CCCP on Gagarin's helmet at the cosmodrome.

The reason to paint CCCP on the helmet was that the very first manned space flight was not publicly known, and less than a year before Gary Powers crash-landed in the USSR after having been shot down in the famous U-2 incident. How would a farmer out in the steppe know that the pilot was a Soviet cosmonaut and not a US spy pilot in the event that the pilot was unconscious?..."

From: Russian Spacesuits, Isaak A. Abramov and A. Ingemar Skoog, 2003

Left: Gagarin during pre-flight training, right: Gagarin on launch day with the lettering on his SK-1 helmet.

Gagarin seen during centrifuge training. As the lettering 'CCCP' is present, these pictures must have been shot post-mission, leading some observers to conclude a lot of pictures showing Gagarin preparing for flight were staged after his spaceflight.

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