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Россия, Новосибирская обл., Новосибирск

Научно-исследовательская работа «Образ Юрия Гагарина в советских и англоязычных СМИ»



For many centuries mankind had dreamt of flying to the stars while looking at the night sky. Night luminaries made a man think about the universe, awakened the imagination, forced to think about the secrets of the universe. As time passed, man gained more and more power over nature, but the dream of flying to the stars was still as unrealizable as thousands of years ago. But one day the dream became a reality - a man conquered into space!

Georgii Timofeevich Beregovoi wrote that "a man ascended into space, carried away by the passion of knowledge. And this flight was prepared by the whole history of mankind, by all the previous successes in the mastery of nature. To simplify this idea, the American scientist Van Allen said: "The artificial satellite of the Earth is a natural continuation of the missiles, which were a natural extension of aircraft and balloons, which are a natural continuation of man's desire to climb trees and mountain peaks to be higher and thus see more space»».

In 1911 Tsiolkovsky utters his prophetic words: "Humanity won’t stay on Earth forever, but, in pursuit of light and space we will first timidly penetrate beyond the atmosphere, and then will conquer everything around the earth's space."

The beginning of this "conquest" was the first manned orbital flight, committed by Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961.

Purpose: to study the image of the first person in space - Yuri Gagarin - in the media.


• To study the theoretical literature

• Analyze statements about Yuri Gagarin from the English-language and Soviet media

Chapter 1. Theoretical General concepts

Before turning to the analysis of the media texts, let's define what is Cosmonautics. Explanatory dictionary by Ozhegov defines “Cosmonautics” as a theory and practice of flying into space.

Cosmonautics (from the Greek κόσμος - the Universe and ναυτική - the art of navigation, navigation) is the theory and practice of navigation beyond the atmosphere of the Earth for the exploration of outer space by means of automatic and manned spacecraft. In other words, it is the science and technology of spaceflight.

Cosmonautics is a huge accelerator of modern science and technology, which has become one of the levers of the modern world process. It stimulates the development of electronics, engineering, materials science, computer technology, energy and many other areas of the national economy.

The idea of ​​space travel arose after the appearance of the heliocentric system of the world, when it became clear that the planets are objects similar to the Earth, and thus a person could in principle visit them. The first published description of the man's stay on the moon was Kepler's fantastic novel "Somnium" (written 1609, published 1634). Fantastic travels to other heavenly bodies were also described by Francis Godwin, Cyrano de Bergerac.

On a scientific level, mankind strives to find in space an answer to such fundamental questions as the structure and evolution of the universe, the formation of the solar system, the origin and ways of life development. From hypotheses about the nature of the planets and the structure of the cosmos, people moved on to a comprehensive and direct study of celestial bodies and interplanetary space with the help of rocket and space technology.

The theoretical foundations of cosmonautics were laid in the work of Isaac Newton "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy", published in 1687. A significant contribution to the theory of the calculation of the motion of bodies in outer space was also made by Euler and Lagrange.

The novels of Jules Verne "From the Earth to the Moon" (1865) and "Around the Moon" (1869) already correctly describe the flight of the Earth-Moon from the point of view of celestial mechanics, although the technical implementation there is clearly limping.

On March 23, 1881 N.I. Kibalchich, being in prison, put forward the idea of ​​a rocket aircraft with a swinging combustion chamber capable of making space flights. His request for the transfer of the manuscript to the Academy of Sciences by the investigative commission was not granted, the project was first published only in 1918 in the journal "The Past", No. 4-5.

Historical information

The end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century were marked by the works of the "pioneers of cosmonautics" (Tsiolkovsky, Zander, Obert, Goddard and many others). It was theoretically justified to use missiles as the main means for space flights, the use of liquid rocket engines as having a significantly greater specific impulse than traditional powder engines, the need for multi-stage missiles. The questions of life support in space, the influence of overloads and weightlessness on man were studied.

A powerful impulse to the development of the space industry was given by the Second World War, which resulted in the emergence of two superpowers - the USSR and the USA.

The so-called "space race" - the competition between the two states in the exploration of outer space began, and began with the triumphant launch of the world's first artificial Earth satellite on October 4, 1957, which was completely unexpected for the whole world. Then, a month later the "finishing strike" was followed: on November 3, 1957 in the USSR the second satellite with the first animal in orbit - the dog Laika was launched.

The Americans, who planned the launch of their satellite in February 1958, had to prepare the pushback, but on December 6, 1957, the launch of the rocket with the proud name "Avangard" was unsuccessful: after rising to a height of 1.2 m above the starting table after 2 seconds it collapsed and exploded.

Since by that time the Russian word “sputnik” had already been perceived by the whole world, the Western press erupted with the malicious names of the unsuccessful satellite: American newspapers called it Kaputnik (from the German kaput - "end" + sputnik), and in West Germany it was called Spaetnik from the German spaet - late".

The next stage of the competition was sending a man into orbit. Until the last days before the flight it was not known who would be the first: Yuri Gagarin or German Titov. On April 9, the State Commission finally decided that Gagarin flies, Titov is a backer-up.

At that time, American engineers were trying hard to catch up with the USSR and do everything possible to make the first man to go into space. The flight of astronaut Alan Shepard was scheduled for March 6, 1961. The score in the opposition was on days. But Shepard's expedition was postponed until May 5 because of the clouds and squalls.

At 7 minutes past9 o'clock on April 12, 1961, the famous Gagarin's "Let's Go!" sounded. The first man went to space. Gagarin took 1 hour 48 minutes to round the planet. At 5 minutes to 11 the capsule of his lander module landed safely near the village of Smelovka in the Saratov region. The news about "108 minutes that shocked the world" instantly flew around the globe, and the smile of the first cosmonaut became a symbol and a synonym for frankness.

Alan Shepard became the second person in space after four weeks.

Chapter 2. Practical

In our research we examined newspaper articles of the Soviet and English-language media and tried to answer the question "in what way people of that time saw Yuri Gagarin."

In total, 6 Soviet and 8 English-language media were selected.

Советские СМИ

Англоязычные СМИ


The Straight Times


Rome News Tribune

Учительская газета

Beaver Country Times

Вечерняя Москва

The Altus Time-Democrat

Магнитогорский металл

St. Joseph News-Press

Литературная газета

Evening Independent


Flight magazine


The New York Times

A selection of vocabulary describing Yuri Gagarin.





«Известия» № 88

Советский человек в космосе! Пример мужества, отваги и геройства, советский человек (3 раза), первый в космосе, лётчик, майор, гражданин СССР.


«Труд» № 88

Покоритель космоса, русский человек, простой советский человек, рядовой отчизны (из стихотворения)


«Учительская газета» № 45

Гражданин СССР (3 раза), лётчик, пилот-космонавт, майор (4 раза), советский человек (2 раза), майор (2 раза), талантливый, трудолюбивый.


«Вечерняя Москва» № 12

Пилот-космонавт, гражданин СССР (2 раза), лётчик-космонавт (2 раза), майор (4 раза), первый пилот-космонавт (2 раза), первый человек покоривший космос, советский человек, подвиг, пионер основания космоса, героический подвиг, славный подвиг, пример мужества, отваги и геройства, отличник, лётчик советской авиации.


«Магнитогорский металл» № 46

Герой СССР, первый летчик-космонавт, советский человек (4 раза), мужественный, первый космонавт, герой-космонавт (2 раза), невысокий рост, крепко cбитый, покоритель космоса (2 раза), опытный, трудолюбивый (2 раза), неизменно первый (3 раза), отличник, помогал другим, настойчивый, терпеливый, целеустремлённый, справедливый, общительный (легко летать, весело жить), великолепный разносторонний спортсмен, пионер покорения космоса.


«Литературная газета» № 45

Советский космонавт (3 раза), майор (6 раз), пилот-космонавт (6 раз), гражданин СССР, отличник, лётчик советской авиации, вступил в ряды Коммунистической партии, героический подвиг, пример мужества, отваги и геройства, советский человек (2 раза), талантливый, трудолюбивый, пионер покорения космоса.


«Rome News Tribune» № 244

Young, air force officer, major Yuri Gagarin, 27 years old father of two children, greatest achievement, повторяются слова Хрущёва (его обращение к Гагарину), first space man (3 раза)


«St. Joseph News-Press» № 73

New soviet hero, a founder, son of carpenter, and ardent member of the Communist party, last name «wild duck», handsome.


«The New York Times» № 37

Major (4 раза), new soviet hero, soviet orbits man, space pioneer reports, space man, first space man (2 раза)


«The Altus Times – Democrat» № 193

First space man (4 раза), first man into space (2 раза), major (2 раза), major Yuri Gagarin, 27 years old, the father of two small daughters, member of the Communist party, good student, soviet hero.


«Evening Independent» № 114

Soviet spaceman, first man in space (3 раза), major (3 раза), last name «wild duck», hero, Russian astronaut, handsome


«Beaver County Times» № 9

First spaceman (2 раза), major Yuri Gagarin, 27 years old father of three children, first man into space (4 раза), man from Russia into space, space pioneer, soviet hero, first conqueror of space, Russia’s man, handsome, “wild duck”, “U-ree Gaa-garr-in”, 27-year-old father of 2 children


«The Straight Times»

the first space traveler, is not a pilot, the father of two daughters, moulder and foundryman



pilot-cosmonaut, Hero of the Soviet Union, smile almost continuous, the smiling face, short figure, Soviet astronaut, polite good humour, ordinary mortal


Unfortunately, the articles reveal the features of the flight and give few facts about the cosmonaut. But we think we have enough sources to infer a conclusion.

The words "hero", "first" and "Soviet" are often used in the Soviet media. Emphasis is placed on the qualities of the person, on the profession, and on the USSR origin. "Magnitogorsk metal" gives a characterization of Gagarin as a person (experienced, hardworking (2 times), always first (3 times), excellent student, helped others, persevering, patient, purposeful, fair, sociable (easy to fly, fun to live), magnificent versatile athlete).

In most English-language newspapers, the Soviet media words are repeated (with reference to a Soviet source). Several newspapers give personal information about the first cosmonaut. For example, “The Altus Times – Democrat” does not print Gagarin's photo, but describes his appearance in the article (more information than in the Soviet media). The emphasis is also on the profession. It is very difficult to judge the personality of the cosmonaut himself.

Soon after the flight, Yuri Gagarin visited a number of foreign countries - in particular, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Finland, Canada and Japan. Later the foreign media showed an increased interest in the first cosmonaut of the Earth. Still, it's one thing to hear about the hero, and it's quite another to see him with your own eyes. Very revealing in this sense is the article published in the issue of the British magazine "Flight" on July 20, 1961. "The smile did not leave Gagarin's face during almost the entire visit to the UK," the newspaper notes. The cosmonaut, of course, had to not only smile, but also answer numerous questions. In the same note of the magazine "Flight" a list of topics interested in various publications is given.

Journalists were interested in everything. Gagarin was asked about his health condition, about the possibility of sending women into orbit and about how the spouse perceived his achievements. The magazine "Flight" asked whether Gagarin really landed with the capsule or catapulted from the vehicle and descended on a parachute. The first cosmonaut replied that this question had already been asked, and added that he landed on board the ship, although he had the opportunity to eject.

On April 12, 1961 when the USSR citizen Yuri Gagarin made the first flight into outer space in the history of mankind, the Western media, of course, understood that the event must be somehow illuminated. Another thing is that no one really knew what to write and speak about. Information then spread at all not as fast as it is now. First of all, the “iron curtain” interfered. In addition, in the United States, for example, some video materials were delivered by airmail. This, of course, is not the slowest way, but it certainly cannot be compared with the Internet.

The situation was partially rescued by the President of the United States John Kennedy, who quickly spoke with the appeal, in which he voiced his attitude to the flight of Gagarin. He, of course, congratulated the USSR, but also said that he was extremely oppressed by the lag in the Soviet cosmonautics. "We will need time to catch up with competitors, and we can assume that some other unpleasant news will await us before the situation improves," Kennedy said. Fragments from the speech of the US President were reproduced by many world media.

And to sum everything up we can say that in Soviet newspapers, Yuri Gagarin was the hero of the entire Soviet people, an example of courage and heroism.

In the English-language newspapers they wrote about the the USSR’s race victory with regret, and did not understand why the Russians managed to outrun. But, they still recognized the fact of the Yuri Gagarin’s space deed.

Reading the articles, we can notice that in both media Yuri Gagarin was a soviet hero, polite, kind man with a continuous smile who was the first man discovered the outer space.



Beaver Country Times. 1961, №9, ср, 12 апр.

Evening Independent. 1961, №114, ср, 12 апр.

Flight magazine. 1961, №4, ср, 20июля.

Rome News Tribune. 1961, №244, ср, 12 апр.

St. Joseph News-Press. 1961, №73, ср, 12 апр.

The Altus Time-Democrat. 1961, №193, ср, 12 апр.

The New York Times. 1961, №37699, ср, 12 апр.

The Straight Times. 1961, чт, 13 апр

Барсуков В.Л. Освоение космического пространства в СССР / В.Л. Барсуков. М., 1982.

Бендиков М. Проблемы и перспективы космической деятельности России / М. Бендиков, И. Фролов // Мировая экономика и международные отношения. 2004. № 2.

Вечерняя Москва. 1961. № 87, ср, 12 апр.

Известия. 1961. № 88, ср, 12 апр.

Коваль А.Д. Космос далекий и близкий / А.Д. Коваль, В.П. Сенкевич. М., 1977.

Литературная газета. 1961.№ 45, чт, 13 апр

Магнитогорский металл. 1961. № 46, вс, 16 апр.

Словарь русского языка (1949, 22-е издание, 1990; с 1992 - "Толковый словарь русского языка", совместно с Н. Ю. Шведовой).

Труд. 1961. № 88, чт, 13 апр

Учительская газета. 1961. № 45, чт, 13 апр

Хомякова А.С., Лонина С.Л. Образ Юрия Алексеевича Гагарина в прессе СССР // Актуальные проблемы авиации и космонавтики. 2011. №7. С.273 



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