Today 14 May 2017 we celebrate 36 years since the first Romanian flew in space. Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu flew on a Soyuz 40 spacecraft and a Salyut 6 space laboratory together with another Romanian cosmonaut, Dumitru Dediu.
Prunariu was born in 1952 in Brasov and graduated from the Politehnica University of Bucharest with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. He worked for a while in the Romanian Aeronautics Industry and in 1978 he was selected for a spaceflight training in 1978 in the Intercosmos Program. Because he had the highest marks after three years of training he has managed to be selected to fly with Russian Leonid Popov.
Prunariu was selected from 150 specialists pilots and specialized engineers. They had to undertake severe medical tests.
Prunariu is the 103rd cosmonaut to fly in space. Until now, 450 people have been in outer space.
The story of the flight
The team that was selected to fly was formed by Leonid Ivanovici Popov, from Russia ( already experienced as he flew before), Dumitru Prunariu, researcher cosmonaut, Iuri Romanenko ( reserve team) from Russia and Dumitru Dediu ( reserve member) from Romania.
This mission was initiated and organized by the USSR at that time and they were backed financially by all countries that were part of the Reciprocal Economic Aid Council. Until 1989 Romania has managed to put into space 19 satellites and two soviet orbital stations.
The flight was originally delayed a year because they had discovered several issues with the ship just before launching. They were also cautious due to the fact that in 1979 a flight with a Bulgarian cosmonaut was interrupted due to severe damages.
The ship was launched at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazahstan at 20.17.The racket that was holding the cosmic ship Soiuz-40 weight 300 tons and in the first 8 minutes and 50 seconds, it flew a distance of 220 km altitude already with a speed of 28,000 km per hour.
The flight duration was 8 days, from May 14 to May 22.The flight had no problems. On the orbital station Saliut 6 the two cosmonauts met Vladimir Kovalionok and Victor Savinih who were in space since March 21, 1981. Together they have undertaken 22 scientific experiments in order to develop efficient technologies and to improve knowledge about cosmic radiations.
The ship returned to Earth on May 22 and flew over Africa and then managed to fly towards Kazakhstan in the area of the Djekazkazgan town.
Dumitru Prunariu said he felt good after the trip, although he had some issues with keeping his balance.