A Soviet spaceship launched on Wednesday (23 July) with a Vietnamese fighter pilot aboard has docked with the orbiting Salyut-six space station.
GV Docking of Russian space station, Salyut-6, with Soyuz-37 spacecraft and Russian and Vietnamese cosmonaut arriving
GV Astronauts together with Vietnamese in middle
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Background: A Soviet spaceship launched on Wednesday (23 July) with a Vietnamese fighter pilot aboard has docked with the orbiting Salyut-six space station. The mission is the latest in the "Intercosmos" programme under which five east Europeans have made brief space trips.
SYNOPSIS: Thirty-three year-old Colonel Pham Tuan of Vietnam and his Soviet mission commander, Colonel Viktor Gorbatko transferred to the space station from their Soyuz-37 craft. The launch from the Baikonur Space Centre in Central Asia made Colonel Pham Tuan the first cosmonaut from a third world country.
Cosmonauts Leonid Popov and Valery Ryumin have been on board the Salyut space station since April 19th. They are attempting to break the 175-day space endurance record set by Ryumin and Vladimir Lyakov last year. The new arrivals will work with them on what the Soviet Union describes as visual observations and photography of various areas of the earth's land and ocean surfaces. They will also be conducting medico-biological research. Colonel Phan Tuan trained with another Vietnamese pilot for a year at the Star City Space Centre before moving to the baking heat of the central Asian steppes to be launched on the Soyuz-37.
This "Intercosmos" mission has been widely publicised during the Olympic Games, which has brought several thousands of journalists from all over the world to Moscow.
Soviet psychologists believe brief visits from Earth are a useful way of breaking up the isolation of long periods in orbit. Colonel Gorbatko, a veteran cosmonaut, had gone into orbit twice before this trip.