Russia released more than 700 pages of never before seen material linked to Gagarin's life and times this week, ahead of today's 50th anniversary. Among the documents are transcripts of radio transmissions that recorded Gagarin's final words before taking flight. In such a serious and historic moment, the exchanges between Gagarin and Soviet technicians -- who later acknowledged that they feared for his life -- were surprisingly calm and even funny.
One of the last things Gagarin did before liftoff was check his supply of food. His flight planners were concerned about him having enough to eat after his voyage, once he'd landed in barren fields near the Volga River, 450 miles from Moscow. They joked about his food supply over a radio transmission, once the hatch on his Vostok space capsule was shut.
"There in the flap you have dinner, supper and breakfast," the father of the Soviet rocket program, Sergei Korolyov, told Gagarin, according to a transcript first published Monday on the Russian news website lifenews.ru.
Gagarin joked back: "The main thing is that there is sausage -- to go with the moonshine."
Both men laughed, and then Korolyov realized their radio transmissions were being recorded for posterity. "Damn. This thing is recording everything, the bastard," he said.
Until now, Gagarin's most famous utterance has been "Poyekhali!" -- or "Off we go!" in Russian -- which he shouted as his space capsule took flight.
Gagarin died when his MiG-15 jet crashed during a training flight seven years after his trip into space.