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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Pham Tuân, Vietnamese Cosmonaut and fighter pilot, b. Feb. 14, 1947



Phạm Tuân, born on February 14, 1947 in Quôc Tuân, Vietnam, holds a remarkable place in space history.


Tuân fought to help liberate his country serving in the People's Air Force during the Vietnam War. He is credited with having shot down a B-52 in 1972. For his bravery and service he was made a Hero of the People's Armed Forces in 1973.


On July 23, 1980, Phạm Tuân became the first Vietnamese citizen and person from an Asian country to go into space. He embarked on the Soyuz 37 mission as an Interkosmos Research Cosmonaut, marking an historic moment for Vietnam and Asia.


Tuân lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard Soyuz 37, accompanied by Soviet cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko. Among the things he took with him on his voyage were a photo of Ho Chi Minh as well as the last will of the great leader. During the mission, which lasted nearly eight days, Tuân conducted scientific experiments aboard the Salyut 6 space station.


Phạm Tuân was later named a Hero of the Soviet Union one of the very few non-Soviet citizens to receive this honour. He was also awarded an Order of Lenin and celebrated as a Vietnamese national hero receiving the Ho Chi Minh Order.


After the mission Tuân continued his service in the military, rising to the rank of lieutenant general in the air force. He is now retired. He is a non-elected member of the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and serves as a director of the General Department of Defense Industry of the Ministry of Defense.


Phạm Tuân’s journey exemplifies courage, scientific curiosity, and international cooperation. His legacy continues to inspire.

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