Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Cold War Space Race was played out over the world stage. The Soviet Union wanted more than ever to show the world they were a Super Power and had the support of other Communist countries. Thus Cosmonauts from other Communist countries were invited to Russia to train and fly during the 80's.

One of those International Cosmonauts was Jugderdemidiin Gurragchaa born December 5, 1947) was the first Mongolian and the second Asian in space. He was Mongolia's defense minister from 2000 to 2004.

Born in Gurvanbulag, Mongolia, Gürragchaa studied in Ulan Bator to become an aerospace engineer. He then joined the air force, rising to the rank of Major General.

He was selected as part of the eighth Intercosmos program on March 1, 1978. His backup was Maidarzhavyn Ganzorig. Gürragchaa, along with Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov, departed from Baikonur Cosmodrome on March 22, 1981. They docked with Salyut 6. While in orbit, Dzhanibekov and Gürragchaa carried out experiments on earth science. After 124 orbits and 7 days, 20 hours and 42 minutes in space, Gürragchaa and Dzhanibekov landed 170 km southeast of Dzhezkasgan.

After Mongolia removed the Communist-era ban on clan names in 1997, and unable to identify his original clan heritage, Gürragchaa chose the clan name Sansar - Mongolian for "cosmos". Clan names have only symbolic significance today and should not be confused with western style "family names", which are unknown in Mongolia.

Before becoming minister of defense, Gürragchaa worked as chief of staff of air defence of Mongolian Armed Forces. He is married and has two children.

Jügderdemidiin Gürragchaa was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on March 30 1981. The Zaisan Memorial, a monument south of Ulan Bator dedicated to Russian-Mongolian friendship, includes a mural which depicts amongst its scenes Gürragchaa's 1981 flight.
First Space Mission
March 22,1981, will forever go down in the history of our country as one of the most memorable and glorious dates. On that day, J. Gurragchaa, the first Mongolian researcher-cosmonaut, at present a member of the Mongolian Parliament, set off on a space mission together with Russian cosmonaut Vladimir Dzhanibekov aboard the "Soyuz-39" spaceship. During this flight, which lasted a week, he conducted a long series of geological, physic-technical and medico-biological experiments. Thus, Mongolia has become the tenth country to send an astronaut into space and J. Gurragchaa - the hundredth astronaut of the world.

There are a few people in Mongolia who observed with their own eyes the flight from Baikonur 27 years ago. One of the witnesses of that historical event, B.Chadraa, Academy of Sciences President, published a book entitled "Mongolian space start" providing the historical facts in 2007 on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the first space mission of the Mongolian cosmonaut.

Incidentally, the photographic reporter of the MONTSAME News Agency, S. Batsukh, embodied events around this historical flight between 1978 and 1981 in a large number of photographs. He has approximately 2,500 pictures immortalizing the event. About 80 percent of photographs included in the book are his work.
On the occasion of the space mission, a large number of children born during that period have received names concerning the space topic, and about 50 kinds of products were produced with pictures displaying this topic. (Legend Tour Company Mongolia)

Soyuz 39
Launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome; landing 170 km southeast of Dzheskasgan.

The Mongolian contribution for this mission had begun in 1967, when the president of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences Bazaryn Shirendev attended a conference of scientists from socialist countries in Moscow, where the Intercosmos project was announced.

Soyuz 39 marked the eighth Interkosmos mission (with Zhugderdemidiyn Gurragcha, the first cosmonaut from Mongolia). Following a one day solo flight Soyuz 39 docked with the Salyut 6 space station on March 23, 1981. During the next days the crew performed common scientific work with the fifth resident crew.

I proudly own the Left Handed Sokol K back-up Glove (Scene in my first photo top of page) that was used by Jugderdemidiin Gurragchaa during training at Star City, Russia. You can see the Back-Up Glove stowed in his left leg pouch of his Sokol Suit in the Soyuz trainer.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Russian Orlan EVA Glove and Mirror

On April 4, 2000 Sergei Viktorovich Zalyotin launched aboard Soyuz TM-30 to make the final flight to the Russian MIR space station. Zalyotin, along with fellow cosmonaut Aleksandr Yuriyevich Kaleri, would make the last flight to MIR before it would be deorbited. Each cosmonaut brings flight spares of both gloves and mirrors used during EVA's. The Orlan glove pictured here is a non-flown flight spare. The mirror flew aboard Soyuz TM-30 and was an EVA spare. Additional pictures show Zalyotin holding the mirror after signing it. Also pictured is the official Soyuz TM-30 flight patch worn by the cosmonauts.

Russian Sokol KV-1 Glove

On March 22, 1981 Vladmir Aleksandrovich Dzhanibekov, along with Mongolian Cosmonaut Zhugderdemidiyn Gurragcha launched from the Baikonur Launch facility aboard Soyuz 39 on their way to dock with the Salyut 6 space station.
Prior to his launch Dzhanibekov trained for his mission at Star City outside of Moscow. During his training each Cosmonaut used a pair of Sokol training gloves.
The picture shows the right handed Sokol KV-1 glove used during Dzhanibekov's pre-flight training. The additional pictures are of Dzhanibekov and Gurragcha in the Soyuz trainer.