Gagarin’s letter

Gagarin’s report, written by the astronaut himself after a problematic landing

There was a loud crash. The inside of the cabin was suddenly filled with a blinding light. I had to endure a noise whose aggressiveness escapes description. It became apparent that the TDU (breaking system) was out of order. The cabin rocked back and forth. The spaceship started to quickly rotate around its axis. I could see the surface of Earth through the entire shield of my helmet, both from up above and from left to right. The rotation speed was 30 turns per second, no less. Everything went very fast. I saw Africa in one moment, in the next, only the horizon and the sky. The blinding light was everywhere, and it was impossible to escape. In addition, I was also blinded by the sun. I had not managed to close the blinds on the main window… The horrible noise prevailed. I wanted to find out what had happened and to notify Earth. I used the transmitter to report that the machine section with the breaking engine had failed to disconnect itself from the landing cabin, but remained attached by a cable. In the end, however, I decided not to understand the situation as an emergency and used the VN4 code, which meant that everything was all right. The following two or three seconds completely smudged the data on the control panel. My vision turned gray. The acceleration reached 10 g. Finally, the cable connecting the cabin to the machine section snapped and I started dropping through the atmosphere. The cabin stopped rotating and started falling down and it became high time to leave. The door of the spaceship opened seven kilometers above the ground and a few seconds later, I was catapulted outside with my seat and my parachutes.