Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez (Actual)

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Mission and Rank

Research Cosmonaut

Soyuz 38: Soyuz 38 (Soyuz 7K-T Model)
Captain Yuri Romanenko
September 18, 1980



Soyuz 38 Destination:
Salyut 6 Space Station

Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez was the first Latin American, the first person of African descent, and the first Cuban to fly in space.

After the revolution of 1959, Tamayo Méndez joined the Cuban air force as a pilot. In 1961 he went to the Soviet Union for training on the MiG-15, and during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, he flew 20 reconnaissance missions. He was selected as a cosmonaut candidate in March 1978 as part of the Soviet Union’s Intercosmos program, which allowed guest cosmonauts from Warsaw Pact and other countries to participate in Soviet space missions.

After completing cosmonaut training, Tamayo Méndez traveled into space aboard Soyuz 38 with Soviet cosmonaut Yury Romanenko on Sept. 18, 1980. During the eight-day mission, Soyuz 38 docked with the Salyut 6 space station, and Tamayo Méndez and Romanenko conducted several scientific experiments and research studies.

Upon his return, Tamayo Méndez was awarded the first title of Hero of the Republic of Cuba by Fidel Castro and was also bestowed with the Order of Lenin and the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest decoration in the Soviet Union.

– Encyclopedia Britannica