March 2, 1978: Vladimír Remek Became the First and Only Czech to Fly to Space

On March 2, 1978, Czech cosmonaut Vladimír Remek became the first and only Czech to fly to space, and the first non-Soviet and non-American astronaut to make the trip to outer space.

After graduating from aviation school as a lieutenant in 1970, Remek began active service for the Czechoslovak air force.

From 1972 to 1976 he continued his studies at the Gagarin Air Force Academy in Monino, U.S.S.R. In 1976 he joined the Soviet cosmonaut unit as part of the Intercosmos program.

The non-Soviet cosmonauts of Intercosmos flew alongside Soviet crews on missions intended to demonstrate unity between Warsaw Pact and other countries sympathetic to the Soviet Union.

After a three-day delay, Soyuz 28 took off from Kazakhstan on March 2, 1978, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the 1948 Prague coup.

The crew docked with the Salyut 6 space station, where the cosmonauts conducted scientific research and experiments. After nearly eight days in space, Remek and Gubarev returned to Earth on March 10.

“Before me there was the same number of Soviet and US cosmonauts, 43. So I became the 87th earthling to see our planet from outer space,” he later said. “I was doing something for my country. It was, to use sporting terminology, a place on the podium, third spot. I was proud of the opportunity and that I’d fulfilled a boyhood dream. I saw in many ways that it had boosted the visibility of Czechoslovakia around the world.”

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; he served until 2013. He then was the Czech ambassador to Russia (2014–18).


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