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Gherman Titov, Russia's forgotten spaceman

Nobody remembers the guy that came second, do they?

50 years ago this Saturday, Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titov became the second man to orbit the earth, a historic achievement long eclipsed by the first space flight of his friend and rival Yuri Gagarin just a few months earlier.

AFP - Getty Images, file

A file picture dated August 1961 of Soviet cosmonaut Gherman Titov during a training session before the Vostok 2 space mission.

The AFP takes a look back at Titov's life today in an article that describes his lasting disappointment at being passed over in the race to be the first man in space:

The Soviet authorities only made the decision in favor of Gagarin on the eve of the flight. In the archive footage, Titov makes no attempt to disguise his disappointment, hanging his head as the official decision is announced.

"Journalists said I was so glad for Gagarin," Titov said in rare comments in 1985. "Of course, there was nothing of the sort."

AFP - Getty Images, file

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (C) embraces cosmonauts Gherman Titov (L)and Yuri Gagarin (R) after Titov returned from the Vostok 2 space mission, on Red Square in Mosco, on August 9, 1961

Remarkably, Titov remains the youngest person to have made it into space, according to space.com. He was a month shy of his 26th birthday when he launched into orbit.