The 4 Most Popular Soviet Astronauts of All Time

We’re all aware of Neil Armstrong and the Buzz Aldrin – they’re two of the most famous American astronauts of all time. They’ve been depicted in some of the best astronomy movies of all time. But, what do you know about soviet astronauts, who are as important, if not more important to the development of the knowledge of space?

It’s no secret that the United States and the USSR participated in a massive race in the 60s to see who could reach space and the moon first. And whilst the American’s ended up putting a man on the moon first in the late 60s, this was long after Russia had already put hundreds of men into space itself.

So, it’s clear to see that NASA isn’t the only space company out there, and there are some Soviet astronauts who deserve recognition.

Yuri Gargarin


Gargarin is known as one of the more famous Soviet names – if you’re interested in astronomy, then you’ll have undoubtedly have heard of him. But if you’re not, then the chances are that the younger generation may not have heard of him at all.

This certainly isn’t the case for the older generation, as in the early 60s Gargarin was known as the first man to be launched into Space. Due to his extensive training and charimatic nature, as well as his small stature making him ideal for being launched into space, Gargarin was launched into space on the 12th of April 1961.

Gargarin was heralded as a celebrity upon returning home to Russia,but also became a global icon too due to his accomplishments and personality (which wasn’t common for a Russian in the West).

Gargarin was unfortunately killed in a routine training session in 1968. It wasn’t until 2013 that we discovered that this was down to poor error to one of the other pilots and not a freak accident, which is what was originally assumed.

Valentina Tereshkova

Unsurprisingly, the Soviets didn’t only launched the first man into space – they also launched the first woman into space, too. In 1963, two years following Gargarin, expert parachuter Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to go into space.

One of the main reasons why Tereshkova became one of five women to enter space was due to her parachuting skills, which she’d be practising intently since childhood. Her father was also a war veteran, which is said to have contributed to her being chosen the first woman into space.

The Vostok 6 took off in mid 1963, and Tereshkova took many still images which helped increase our understanding of atmosphere.

Aleksei Leonov

It seems like Russians may not be as dreary as stereotype would have you believe – another charismatic Russian is Aleksei Leonov, known for being one of the most popular Russian astronauts.

Leonov is known for being the first man to spacewalk – Leonov left his aircraft and spent over 10 minutes alongside it pulling all sorts of different manouvres and tricks.

Valeri Polyakov

Going into space for 240 days just into enough for some people. This is especially true for Valeri Polyakov.

After spending 240 days in space in the early 90s, this just wasn’t enough for Polyakov. In 1994, he then went and spend an amazing 437 days in space, which is a world record that still hasn’t been surpassed.


This is just a short list of some of the most famous and acclaimed Soviet astronauts, though as you might expect, there are a ton of other astronauts out there worth mentioning.


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