Was Gagarin the first????

According to the history books, the first human to travel in Space was 2nd Lieutenant Yuri Gagarin, on April 12th, 1961. But there have been persistent rumours ever since that Gagarin was by no means the first, and that a number of Soviet Cosmonauts preceded him with fatal results. This is a brief résumé of some suggested names of these forgotten heroes that have remained suppressed for over 40 years....

Lieut. Ledovsky died in 1957 on a brief suborbital spaceflight from the Kapustin Yar rocket base on the Volga River.

Cosmonaut A Shiborin was killed the following year on a similar mission when a parachute failed.

Lieut. V Mitkov
died during a third ballistic flight in 1959.

A fourth cosmonaut was successfully launched into space in May 1960, but a faulty retro-fire marooned him in orbit.

In September 1960 Cosmonaut Pyotr Dolgov died in a launchpad explosion.

On February 4, 1961, laboured heartbeats were heard during radio transmissions from an unknown Soviet Spacecraft. Several Cosmonauts disappeared around this time, among them Belokonev, Kachur, and Grachev.

In April 1961 Vladimir Ilyushin (son of the aviation pioneer) reportedly orbited the earth three times: his Vostok Spacecraft landed heavily (possibly in China) severely injuring the Cosmonaut. (This claim has been refuted, the official story being that he was injured in a car crash, dying in a second accident a year later!)

Following Gagarin's mission (it should be acknowledged that many commentators doubt that Gagarin ever actually flew in Space!) other unsuccessful spaceflights reputedly took place:

In May 1961 weak human voice broadcasts were detected in Europe, apparently from a two-man spacecraft. After several calls for help, these faded away....

In October, 1961, a Soviet spacecraft with three crew-members went off course and left Earth orbit.

In November, 1963 the Soviet Union attempted to launch a second woman into space. This ended in disaster when her Vostok craft allegedly burned up during re-entry.

According to Italian shortwave interceptions, two Cosmonauts died during an unsuccessful space mission in April 1964.
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