Inspired by my September visit to a Baikonur Cosmodrome, multiple visits to NASA museums and military bases in USA, general curiosity about Cold War and space race and perhaps harboring aspiration of becoming a cosmonaut myself in the formative years came all together last week when I had a chance to meet, interview and photograph Mr. Vladimir Remek, the first citizen of a nation other than the United States or the USSR to go into space. His childhood inspiration was Yuri Gagarin, who 5o years ago, became the first man is space and legend in his own right.
Mr Remek went to space in 1978. This is at the time of the Interkosmos agency that was uniting communist countries’ aspirations in space. Remek flew aboard Soyuz 28 in 1978 with a Russian cosmonaut Alexei Gubarev. On their mission, they spent 8 days aboard the Salyut 6 space station. Remek shared interesting and quirky stories surrounding the space flight, zero gravity, vigorous training in the star city and rituals surrounding Baikonur Cosmodrome. In the top photo, he is explaining how Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space in 1963) was taking a photo of a group of cosmonauts – and tricked everyone into believing she took one but in actuality, waiting to take it seconds after, when the group got relaxed to snap it. The city of Baikonur that is adjacent to the Baikonur Cosmodrome was then called Leninsk. Remek is currently serving a second term as a Czech Communist party representative at the European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium.