Did The First Human In Space Die In A Stupid Accident, Or Was He Murdered By His Own Government?

Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's death has been shrouded in mystery for over five decades. While new revelations have shed some light on the events leading to his 1968 demise, many conspiracy theorists have wildly differing beliefs regarding what happened to the Russian space hero. Gagarin died on Earth in a routine training flight from Chkalovsky Air Base, just outside of Moscow. A KGB investigation ruled that the expert flyer made a sudden maneuver, which caused the plane to stall and crash, but they offered little more information than that.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the US and the Soviet Union were engaged in a Cold War. Part of the competition between the two countries focused on being the first to outer space. Gagarin led the Soviet space race in the Vostok 1 spacecraft in 1961, a month before the US sent a man into orbit. He became an international and much-beloved hero.

But he didn't live to see the US place a man on the moon in 1969. He died just a little more than a year earlier in a plane crash that the KGB didn't speak about for decades, which led to some pretty outlandish theories about how he died. Was he murdered by the KGB or did something far more routine bring him down? While we certainly have some answers in the decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia is still a fairly secretive country, and—as with JFK's assassination—conspiracy theorists are still not convinced they know the whole truth.