Commemorating 40 Years of European Human Space Flight

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Forty years ago today, Vladimír Remek became the first man who wasn't a Soviet or an American to go into space.

On 2 March 1978, he took off aboard the Soyuz 28 spacecraft for an eight-day mission to the Salyut 6 space station. Soyuz 28, with Gubarev and Remek aboard, was launched on the evening of 2 March 1978. Czechoslovak Radio’s Ilja Jenca described the two cosmonauts – their faces projected onto a gigantic monitor screen in the control center – as “two brothers, or even twins, representing two brother socialist countries…the symbolism mingles with reality”.

After an eight-day flight, Gubarev and Remek landed back in the Soviet Union. Back on Earth, Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev exploited the political impact of the flight to the full. 

In the weeks that followed, the solid gold stars of Hero of the Soviet Union and Hero of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic flowed aplenty, with Gustav Husak honoring them in a lavish ceremony at Prague Castle.

The significance of Mr. Remek's flight continues to be felt. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), it represents Europe's entry into human space flight. 'I am very pleased to hear that,' says the MEP. 'It is a great honor to be regarded as the first European astronaut.'

Remek returned to the Czechoslovak air force, where he served as assistant to the chief of the Military Research Institute for six years. In 1985 he joined the Defense Office of Czechoslovakia, and he stayed there until 1989 when he left to work for an air and space museum in Prague. In 2004 Remek was elected to the European Parliament as a member of the Czech Communist Party delegation.

Author: red

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