The Soviet Union scored a space "first" on Thursday (2 March) when it launched Soyuz-28 -- the first-ever spacecraft to go into orbit with a crew member who was not from either the U.
GV EXTERIOR Space craft on launch pad
MV Czech cosmonaut Vladimir Remek leads Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Gubarev up steps to capsule
GV Rocket on launching pad
MV Cosmonauts seated in capsule, Remek (left)
GV Space craft on launch pad with relatives watching (3 shots)
GV Rockets fire and space craft lifts off
GV Relative hugs man in uniform
MV Czech and Soviet cosmonauts in space capsule
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The Soviet Union scored a space "first" on Thursday (2 March) when it launched Soyuz-28 -- the first-ever spacecraft to go into orbit with a crew member who was not from either the U.S.S.R. or the United States. The two-man crew consisted of a Soviet Commander and a Czechoslovakian officer. Their mission was reported to be to link-up with the orbiting Salyut-6 space laboratory, where the current crew is about to break the American space endurance record of 84 days.
SYNOPSIS: The Soyuz-28 rocket was due to blast off at 28 minutes past three GMT on Thursday (2 March). Preparation all went ahead according to schedule, and the two cosmonauts boarded their craft in good time.
Moscow Radio described the project as the first international space mission. The two cosmonauts on the historic flight were identified as 29-year-old Army captain Vladimir Remek of Czechoslovakia, on the left, and the Mission commander, Alexei Gubarev, who last flew in space in 1975. The launching was given more attention than other recent space missions, as there had been unconfirmed rumours for some weeks that a non-Soviet cosmonaut was to be included in the crew.
The Soviet News Agency Tass reported that there are plans for further space missions involving East Europeans in the coming months. So Captain Vladimir Remak could well be the first of a new breed of space explorers from soviet satellite countries. His successors are likely to come from Poland and East Germany.