Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter space back in 1961 and April 12 marks the 60th anniversary of his triumph. /AP
Sixty years ago Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space – and on Sunday, Russians gathered to remember his achievement.
Thousands of people joined the celebrations in Saint Petersburg to watch a firework display, as scores of scale-model rockets were launched into the sky.
Gagarin's achievement meant the USSR reached a significant milestone in its race with the USA to enhance its knowledge of space, but the mission didn't go entirely to plan.
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Gagarin entered into an orbit at a higher altitude than planned, meaning there was a significant risk of braking failure, which could have delayed his descent back to earth.
Had the brakes failed on his spacecraft, Gagarin would likely have remained in space for considerably longer and run out of supplies of food, drink and oxygen in the process.
Thankfully, his spacecraft operated as planned and he returned safely to earth but landed a distance away from the area marked for his landing.
Gagarin ejected his capsule and touched down on earth in the Saratov region of Russia, where an old woman and her granddaughter witnessed his return while digging potatoes.
Russians gathered in Saint Petersburg on Sunday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of astronaut Yuri Gagarin's historic space flight. /AP
With the mission coinciding with the height of the Cold War, some locals suspected Gagarin was a spy, but thankfully he managed to convince them otherwise.
Gagarin had also written a farewell letter to his wife telling her "not to die of grief" in the event his mission went wrong and he didn't return.
Thankfully he did – and humankind has celebrated his mission ever since.
Video editor: Riaz Jugon
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