Now, the first man to walk in space says he can reveal what really happened to his friend and fellow Russian cosmonaut.
Alexei Leonov, who in 1965 became the first man to leave a spacecraft and float in the open vacuum of space, has worked for years to learn what led to Gagarin's death. He finally gained permission and spoke about the details in an interview released on Friday (June 14) by the state-funded Russia Today (RT) television network.
Yuri Gagarin made history by launching on the world's first manned spaceflight on April 12, 1961. He died just shy of his Vostok 1 mission's seventh anniversary, on March 27, 1968, when the MiG-15 fighter jet that he and instructor Vladimir Seryogin were piloting on a routine training flight went down outside a small town near Moscow. [Photo Gallery: First Man in Space — Yuri Gagarin in Pictures]