27-year-old cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space on April 12, 1961, aboard the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok-1). Gagarin was selected as one of the Soviet Union’s first class of 20 cosmonauts in 1960. He excelled in the training and so was chosen to be the first man to enter space.
Vostok-1 reaches a maximum altitude of 327 km and goes once around the earth. According to official records, the spaceflight took 108 minutes from launch to landing. The entire flight is controlled by automatic systems but a code to unlock the controls was placed in an on-board envelope, for Gagarin's use in case of an emergency. Gagarin landed separately from the spacecraft, having ejected with a parachute 7 km above the ground.
Yuri Gagarin News 1961 (Dutch)
Yuri Gagarin interview BBC July 11, 1961