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Vietnam, Russia celebrate historic Soviet-Vietnamese space flight

07:06 | 24/07/2020

The Air Defense-Air Force High Command has partnered with the Vietnam-Russia Friendship Association to celebrate the exploits of Vietnamese astronaut Pham Tuan as one of the greatest national heroes, 40 years on from becoming the first Vietnamese person to orbit the earth.

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vietnam russia celebrate historic soviet vietnamese space flight
Cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko on the left and Pham Tuan on the right. Photos: Documentary

From the Baikonur cosmodrome, Soyuz 37 was launched into space with an international crew that consisted of Soviet cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko and Pham Tuan on July 23, 1980. They spent eight days in space - the equivalent to 142 orbits around the Earth researching and taking photos of Vietnam from space.

Pham Tuan brought the Vietnam national flag, Vietnamese soil and etc. along with him to space. For the first time, the Vietnamese flag is in space, showing to the world the achievement of Vietnam.

vietnam russia celebrate historic soviet vietnamese space flight
Tuan and Gorbatko took part in a rigorous training regime ahead of the flight.
vietnam russia celebrate historic soviet vietnamese space flight
The eight-day Intercosmos flight was the 13th crew to visit the Salyut 6 station.
vietnam russia celebrate historic soviet vietnamese space flight
Pham Tuan, alongside Soviet cosmonaut Gorbatko.

Now, 40 years later, in Hanoi-based Air Defence – Air Force Museum, the Air Defense-Air Force High Command has partnered with the Vietnam-Russia Friendship Association to hold a gather celebrating this amazing event.

In the celebration, Hero of the People's Armed Forces, Lieutenant-General Pham Tuan had shared his memories about the event and the USSR's Interkosmos program that he participated in and hopes that the Vietnamese-Russian aerospace partnership will be stronger and better so that together, the two countries will reach new heights.

In his speech, Minister-counsellor of the Russian Embassy in Vietnam, Vadim V. Bublikov highlighted the joint flight has become a shining event in the history of bilateral relations - currently dynamically developing in the spirit of comprehensive strategic partnership.

vietnam russia celebrate historic soviet vietnamese space flight
Pham Tuan sharing his memories beside Soyuz-36 capsule which returned Tuan to Earth from the Salyut space station. He was in space for a total of seven days, 20 hours, and 42 minutes.

Viktor Vasilyevich Gorbatko was born on Dec. 3, 1934 in the village of Ventsy-Zarya in Krasnodar Krai. Inspired to become a pilot by the stories he heard from his siblings of World War II aviators, he joined the Soviet Army in 1952 and one year later, graduated from the 8th Military Aviation School in the Ukrainian town of Pavlograd.

In 1960, he joined the first Soviet outer space team and he had been flying three times into space in 1969, 1977 and 1980.

vietnam russia celebrate historic soviet vietnamese space flight
A memorable image features the friendship between Russian astronaut Gorbatko and Pham Tuan. Photo: Wikiwand

On his third and final space flight, Gorbatko launched with Pham Tuan, the first Vietnamese citizen and first Asian in space. The 8-day Intercosmos flight marked the 13th crew to visit the Salyut 6 station. Gorbatko and Tuan returned to Earth on the Soyuz 36 spacecraft on July 31, 1980.

He left the cosmonaut team two years after his last space flight on Aug. 28, 1982 to become the deputy president of the committee for sports in the Soviet Ministry of Defense. Later, he taught at the Air Force Engineering Academy and served as general director of AA & AL in Moscow.

He engaged in bilateral friendship activities and he was a close friend of Vietnam. Among the many Soviet and international titles awarded, he was awarded the Vietnam Hero of Labor Medal and the Ho Chi Minh Medal.

Gorbatko died on May 17, 2017 at the age of 83./.

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