Vostok 1 was the first spacecraft to carry a human, Yuri A. Gargarin, into space, occurring 25 days prior to the first U.S. suborbital flight. Because of concerns of adverse reactions to due to experiencing weightlessness, the manual controls on the spacecraft were locked prior to launch and the entire flight was under the control of ground personnel.
The spacecraft consisted of a nearly spherical cabin covered with ablative material. There were three small portholes and external radio antennas. Radios, a life support system, instrumentation, and an ejection seat were contained in the manned cabin. This cabin was attached to a service module that carried chemical batteries, orientation rockets, the main retro system, and added support equipment for the total system. This module was separated from the manned cabin on reentry. After one orbit, the spacecraft reentered the atmosphere and landed in Kazakhstan (about 26 km southwest of Engels) 1 hour 48 minutes after launch.
The Vostok spacecraft was designed to eject the cosmonaut at approximately 7 km and allow him to return to earth by parachute. Although initial reports made it unclear whether Gargarin landed in this manner or returned in the spacecraft, subsequent reports confirmed that he did indeed eject from the capsule. Radio communications with earth were continuous during the flight, and television transmissions were also made from space.