In the movie, Another Earth, Rhoda told John that Yuri Gagarin heard a ticking sound during his journey into outer space. He couldn't find the source, and eventually came to love that ticking sound.

Did this really happen to Yuri Gagarin?

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    Vostok 1 launched April 12, 1961, 06:07 UTC, went around the earth once, and touched down again one hour and 48 minutes later. The time without either boosters or retrorockets firing was a bit over an hour, with Gargarin transmitting every couple of minutes over the radio. So much for framing this "claim" of Gagarin "eventually" coming to like the sound.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 12:50
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    Do we know of other background noises? I would expect various noises from a first-generation space capsule that was rapidly designed and constructed to have some noises, especially during thermal expansion/contraction cycles.
    – Smith
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 14:22
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    May be you should ask this on space.stackexchange.com. As for the ticking sound, at the time there were many mechanical controls and instruments in the capsule, including a mechanical clock (mentioned e.g. here, in Russian), so it is entirely possible that he could hear such sounds during the flight.
    – mustaccio
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 17:24
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    @MarkC.Wallace Isn't the fact that a movie put a phrase into the mouth of a REAL existing man a reason for questioning per se??? Isn't also this the role of historians - to fix/confirm false/true quotations from movies? Upvote for a good (and well justified!) question. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 20:20
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    For those interested, the original clip from Another Earth can be found here. Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 3:35

3 Answers 3


I've seen this story a number of times since Another Earth was released in 2011, usually something along lines like this article.

The problem is that I've never seen anything about it in any of the official histories or biographies of Gagarin. Also, the stories all seem to think Gagarin's mission was to last 25 (or 28 depending on the story) days.

In fact, the flight of Vostok 1 was only a single orbit and took only 108 minutes from launch to landing. Not much time to spend searching for a "ticking sound"!

Vostok 1 was Gagarin's only spaceflight (although he served as backup crew for the Soyuz 1 mission), so I think that the stories are based on the movie, rather than the line from the movie being based on actual events.

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    From the article: "He knew he’d have to deal with this tight space for around a month." -- Which is funny considering that even Apollo 11 didn't last for more than about 8 days. ;-)
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 12:47
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    The Vostok mission had supplies for approximately 10 days that would be required for the craft to deorbit via decay in case the retro-rocket had failed. In fact, during launch the 3d stage did not terminate on time, taking the craft to a higher than planned orbit, from which decay would take 20 to 50 days, by various estimates.
    – mustaccio
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 17:42
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    @mustaccio Yes, but the question isn't about what might have happened. Gagarin actually only had 108 minutes total mission time, including the time taken for launch and for re-entry procedures. He was in radio communication with the ground throughout the flight. He simply didn't have the time to be "driven crazy" by a ticking sound, partially dismantle the control panel, and eventually "come to love" the sound. Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 18:46
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    I'm not arguing about ticking; just trying to explain the origin of various mission duration values.
    – mustaccio
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 19:45
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    The problem here is that the whole "story" as framed by Another Earth is so completely disconnected from the reality of Gagarin's actual flight. The linked article uses the info from Another Earth -- but makes it sound as if it were reality. Don't believe everything you see on TV or read on the internet...
    – DevSolar
    Commented Jul 28, 2017 at 14:38

I asked an expert on Gagarin to review the question:

"I never heard the story about unexplained ticking, but I do know that he wore Sergei Korolev's wrist watch. At least that is the Russian legend." Personal correspondence with Cathleen Lewis, curator in the Division of Space History, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

She notes she has not seen the movie referenced in the question.


The cabin was pressurized (Gagarin reported "cabin pressure 1" at several times - although he specifies no unit, it is safe to assume that he used the same unit as for other pressure measurement, which was the "atmosphere"). So he could have sounds travelling though the air.

He wore a watch, a Штурманские with a ПОЛЕТ clockwork, I think, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poljot and http://www.netgrafik.ch/russian_space_watches.htm

As this was his own personal watch which has been wearing for quite some time on Earth, he might have gotten attached to that sound. However, he probably wouldn't have had to guess about the source of the ticking in that case.

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