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Soviet Union ‘lied about 1961 Yuri Gagarin space mission’

London(PTI): The erstwhile Soviet Union officials lied about the success of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s historic 1961 flight into space, and also covered up the fact that he had landed more than 200 miles away from the expected location, a new book has claimed.

The Soviet Union held up his mission, the first manned flight into space, as a major Cold War propaganda coup, portraying it as a glitch-free triumph of Communist ideology.

Now, 50 years on, the book, ‘108 Minutes That Changed the World’, has revealed that the Soviet scientists had twice miscalculated where Gagarin would land which is why there was nobody there to meet him when he finally touched down some 500 miles south of capital Moscow, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.

“For many years Soviet literature claimed that Yuri Gagarin and his Vostok landing capsule had come down in the area it was supposed to. (But) this information was far from the truth,” the book says, adding Soviet space planners were expecting him to land almost 250 miles further to the south.

“So it turned out that nobody was waiting or looking for Yuri Gagarin. Therefore the first thing he had to do after landing was set off to look for people and communications so he could tell the leadership where he was,” the book claims.

The Soviets lied too about the manner of his landing, claiming that he had touched down inside the capsule itself when in actual fact he had landed separately via parachute, according to the book.

The reason they lied, said the book, was to skirt strict rules that would have prevented them from officially registering the flight as a world record.

The book, by the Russian journalist Anton Pervushin, published a touching letter Gagarin wrote to his family before the mission in which he pondered his own mortality, telling his wife not to “die of grief” if he never returned.

“But sometimes people slip on even ground and break their neck. Something could also happen here. If it does I ask you Valyusha (affectionate name for his wife) not to die of grief. After all life is life and there is no guarantee for anybody that tomorrow a car might not end ones life,” wrote the cosmonaut who died in 1968.

The book, by the Russian journalist Anton Pervushin, published a touching letter Gagarin wrote to his family before the mission in which he pondered his own mortality, telling his wife not to “die of grief” if he never returned.

“But sometimes people slip on even ground and break their neck. Something could also happen here. If it does I ask you Valyusha (affectionate name for his wife) not to die of grief. After all life is life and there is no guarantee for anybody that tomorrow a car might not end ones life,” wrote the cosmonaut who died in 1968.

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