This edition of Sculpture Saturday features the Monument to Yuri Gagarin (1934 – 1968), the first person to travel in space. Constructed for the 1980 Olympic Games, the pedestal and statue is 42.5m (nearly 140ft) tall. In contrast to the impressive height of the statue, Gagarin was only 157cm (5ft 2in) tall. The monument is located in Gagarin Square at Leninsky Prospekt in Moscow, Russia.
The creators of the monument are the sculptor Pavel Bondarenko, architects Yakov Belopolsky, F.M. Gazhevsky, and designer A.F. Sudakov. The statue and pedastal are made of titanium, a metal often used in spacecraft, and weighs 12 tons.
My photo was taken on an overcast day in January 2009 from a moving bus. This photo shows the statue in better light and focus.
On April 12, 1961, Gagarin orbited the Earth in the Vostok 1 spacecraft. Being a nationally revered figure, it was the only space mission he was allowed to fly. Gagarin, a pilot in the Soviet Air Force, was even barred from all flying duties until February 1968.
Sadly, on March 27, 1968, only five weeks after being cleared to fly, Gagarin perished along with a flight instructor when the MiG-15 fighter plane they were flying crashed during a routine training flight.