First Asian Astronaut Phạm Tuân Went to Space 39 Years Ago Today

Phạm Tuân, a retired Vietnam Air Force aviator and retired lieutenant general, made history 39 years ago for becoming the first ever Vietnamese and first Asian person to ever go out in space.

Tuân was selected to become part of the sixth international crew for the Interkosmos program by the Soviet Union on April 1, 1979. He was then launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome spaceport in southern Kazakhstan on board the Soyuz 37 mission to the Salyut 6 space station on July 23, 1980.

He spent seven days and 20 hours out in space and made 142 orbits, and performed experiments on melting of minerals in microgravity. Tuân returned to Earth on July 31, 1980.

Phạm Tuân
Image via YouTube / VTC1 – Tin tức

Before becoming part of the Interkosmos program, Tuân was recognized as an important person during the Vietnam War where he allegedly shot down an American B-52, but the United States government in its records claimed that the bomber was brought down by a surface-to-air missile.

Tuân received several awards for his service including the Ho Chi Minh Order, Order of Lenin, and the “Hero of the Soviet Union,” which is a rare honor as only a few foreigners have had received such an award.

Feature Image (right) via famille.sebile (CC BY 2.0)

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