A thrilling tale of one of humanity's greatest adventures, a battle of wits, will, genius and extraordinary courage as the Soviets and Americans raced to put the first human in space. On April 12, 1961, twenty-seven-year old Yuri Gagarin, a Russian ex-foundry worker and loyal Communist, climbed inside a tiny spherical capsule on top of the Soviet Union's most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile - originally designed to carry a nuclear warhead-and blasted into the skies. Eleven minutes later he was in orbit, the first human ever to leave the planet. Traveling at almost 18,000 miles per hour - ten times faster than a rifle bullet - Gagarin circled the globe in just 106 minutes. From his windows he saw the earth as nobody had before, crossing a sunset and a sunrise, crossing oceans and continents, witnessing both its beauty and its fragility. While his launch began in total secrecy, within hours of his landing he had become the most famous man on the planet. Beyond tells the gripping story behind that epic flight on its 60th anniversary. It happened in the depths of the Cold War as the US and USSR confronted each other across an Iron Curtain. Both superpowers committed huge resources to get a man in space first. Both took huge risks. And the race would come down to the wire. Drawing on extensive original research and the vivid testimony of eyewitnesses, many of whom have never spoken before, Stephen Walker unpacks secrets that were hidden for decades and takes the reader into the heart of the drama - to the scientists, engineers and political leaders on both sides, and above all to the American astronauts and their Soviet rivals battling for supremacy in the heavens.
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Date of Publication: 01/04/2021