Yuri Gagarin first man into space aboard the Vostok 1.
A Soviet pilot and cosmonaut, he dies in 1968 due to an unexpected crash whilst he piloted a MiG 15 training Jet.
Check the Google Doodle for tributes to Yuri...
Perhaps it may come as a surprise but the man responsible for the USSR's complete space race program was a man named Sergei Korolev. He single handedly created the Soviet space program.. his achievements include:
Deputy Chief of the Jet Propulsion Research Institute in 1933
-- The Stalin purges of 1938 saw him thrown into a Siberian GULAG --
-- released in 1944 --
Korolev traveled to Germany in 1945 to inspect, evaluate and restore the A4 Ballistic missile.
He created the first world ballistic missile the R 7.
He developed and created launch platforms, missiles, communication satellites, all with scientific and militaristic capabilities.
The Soyuz Spacecraft was still in use in 2006, 40 years from its original conception date.