Vladimír Remek, Alexei Gubarev

Today in Mailbox: Sunday Music Show, Magazine, learning Czech, your answers to the April mystery Czech quiz question, a brand new question for May. Listeners quoted: Joe T. Vosoba, Ivan, Sam Beaton, Hans Verner Lollike, S. J. Agboola, Prithwiraj Purkayastha, Chun-Quan Meng, Kifle, Henrik Klemetz, Asifa Shaheen, Ian Morrison, Constantin Liviu Viorel, Mary Lou Krenek, David Eldridge, Colin Law, Annette Harris, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Charles Konecny.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague’s listeners’ letters programme. Before we proceed to the results of our monthly mystery Czech quiz, let’s hear some of your comments.

Joe T. Vosoba from the United States has this question:

“I very much wanted to read Daniela Lazarová's story on Karel Hašler, but could never find more than the first paragraph. My computer refuses to play the audio version. How can I read this story, please?”

I’m afraid that in the case of our Sunday Music Shows the full text is no longer available on the internet. However, I forwarded your e-mail to our Internet Department. Hopefully, they will be able to help you solve the listening problem.

Ivan in Kansas wants to know:

“What happened to the ‘Magazine’ that you used to publish? Enjoyed the articles and miss it.”

The popular Magazine show that was around for many years was discontinued along with some other programmes as a result of the changes to Radio Prague’s broadcast schedule earlier this year.

Sam Beaton from Scotland made this comment on the content of the last Mailbox with regards to learning Czech:

“I am a student at University of Glasgow studying Slavonic studies, with my interests being Czech culture and history. One resource that has helped me and may help your listeners is the excellent ‘Communicative Czech’ series of textbooks written by Ivana Rešková and Magdalena Pintarová, which is also available with workbooks and audio CD. I believe these can be ordered and imported from the Czech Republic.”

Vladimír Remek,  Alexei Gubarev
And now for your answers to last month’s quiz question. Hans Verner Lollike from Denmark wrote:

“The name you are asking for is Vladimir Remek. He flew as a cosmonaut in the Soviet space shuttle Soyuz 28 on March 2nd to 10th in 1978 as the first non-US and non-Soviet citizen. He was a real Czechoslovak since is father was Slovak and his mother Czech. The most remarkable thing about him is the he continued to be a communist after the Velvet Revolution and has since 2004 been member of the European Parliament as independent communist. Born the same year, being part of the same period of history, it would be a pleasure for me to ask him a couple of questions.”

S. J. Agboola from Nigeria writes:

“He was a pacesetter in many regards. Apart from being the first Czech, he was also the first person in the new European Union to have performed the feat and at the age of 30. He travelled aboard Soyuz 28. I can rightly attribute his success in the aviation field to his background as a son of a Lieutenant General.”

Prithwiraj Purkayastha from the Indian state of Assam sent us this answer:

“I think he was Vladimir Remek, son of former Czechoslovakian foreign minister Jozef Remek. He was in space for almost eight days in 1978 at the Salyut 6 space station. Vladimir Remek was also the first person in space from the European Union.”

Chun-Quan Meng writes from China:

“This April's quiz's really interesting. For me, it's a very easy-to-answer quiz. The mystery person is Vladimír Remek, that is, the first man in space who was not a citizen of either the United States and Soviet Union, is Vladimir Remek, who's Czech.”

Kifle from Uganda says:

“Vladimir Remek, from the then Czechoslovakia, was the first man in space apart from the Soviet Union and USA. As a member of the crew of Soyuz 28, he went to space in March 1978. Vladimir Remek now serves in the European Parliament.”

Henrik Klemetz follows Radio Prague in Sweden:

“So far there have been over 500 space travellers representing 35 different countries. The first traveller who was not either a Soviet or a US citizen was Vladimír Remek, born to a Czech mother and Slovak father, and so a Czechoslovak citizen. Interestingly, Remek has remained faithful to his Communist creed and as such he has been elected into the European Parliament. An asteroid has also been named after him.”

Asifa Shaheen from Pakistan wrote:

“Vladimír Remek was born on 26th of September 1948 in Czechoslovakia. After graduation he joined the air force of Czechoslovakia. He became a cosmonaut in 1976. He was the first citizen of a nation other than the United States and USSR to go into space. He flew aboard Soyuz 28 in 1978. He stayed in space for 8 days.”

Ian Morrison writes from China:

“Remek flew as part of the Intercosmos programme, which he joined in 1976. Remek remains active in public life, having been elected twice to the European Parliament in 2004 and 2009. I remember Vladimir Remek from my youth as his image appeared on a Czechoslovak postage stamp issued in 1988 to mark the 10th anniversary of his space mission. I received the stamp on a first day cover envelope from Radio Prague, courtesy of the ‘Stamp Corner’ programme hosted by Jan Dvořák.”

Constantin Liviu Viorel from Romania has a similar memory:

“The first man in space who was not citizen of USA and Soviet Union, was Vladimír Remek from Czechoslovakia (in that period) who in 1978 participated in the Intercosmos program with a rocket Soyuz. This question reminds me of those days, because in that period I listened every day The Afro Asian Service of Radio Prague. I received some stamps and a FDC from Radio Prague dedicated to the first Czechoslovak astronaut. I have these stamps in my collection.”

Mary Lou Krenek from Texas wrote:

“Vladimír Remek is currently serving s second term as a Czech Communist Party representative at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. Remaining steadfast to his Communist roots and views, he is loyal to the ideology and party that educated him and gave him the opportunity to be a Cosmonaut and go into space. Since he remains an iconic figure in Czech culture, Vladimír Remek continues to enjoy a relative amount of success in the new, democratic Czech Republic.

“It was interesting to discover that a Czech was the first to go into space after the Americans and Russians. I live near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where today astronauts from many different nations train to go into space and some go to live on the International Space Station.”

David Eldridge from United Kingdom sent us this answer:

“This month’s mystery person is easy: Vladimír Remek. You wrote about him in your news broadcast of 12th April 2011 when, on the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight, he and six other Russian and foreign cosmonauts were presented with the Medal for Merit in Space Exploration.

“Remek trained in the officers' school in the Slovak city of Košice, afterwards serving in the Czechoslovak Air Force in Zvolen. From 1972 he studied at the Yuri Gagarin Air Force Academy in Moscow and after graduation returned briefly to the Czechoslovak air force.

“At the end of 1976 Remek was selected along with a group of cosmonauts from the GDR and Poland under the program ‘Intercosmos’ in which the Soviet Union cooperated with other states. Remek completed a crash course preparing for a flight on a spacecraft such as Soyuz and a Salyut space station and was selected to fly on the Soyuz-28 which docked with the orbiting space station Salyut-6.

“Remek and Soyuz pilot Colonel Alexei Gubarev together with the station crew Yuri Romanenko and Georgi Grechko conducted a series of joint technological and medico-biological experiments proposed by Soviet and Czechoslovak scientists. The flight took place from 2nd to 10th March 1978.”

Colin Law from New Zealand wrote:

“In 1978 Remek was the first, and so far, the only, Czech cosmonaut. He became the third nationality in space when he spent almost 8 days on the Soyuz 28 and the Salyut 6 orbital station. (It is of interest to note the Czech and Slovak origins of three American astronauts, Eugene A. Cernan, James L. Lovell, Jr. and John E. Blaha who were involved in Gemini and Apollo space missions.)

“From 1979 to 1985 Remek served as Assistant to the Chief of the Military Research Institute. In 1989 he worked in the Czechoslovak Defence Office and in 1990 he became director of the Military Museum for Aviation and Astronautics in Prague. In 1995 Remek moved to Russia where he worked as a commercial representative for CZ-Turbogaz, a joint Czech-Russian company. From 2002 to 2004 he was involved with the Czech Embassy in Russia.

“This year, on the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight, Remek was in Moscow to receive an award of the Russian Order of Merit for the exploration of space. Vladimír Remek's other distinctions include: Hero of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Czechoslovak Order of Clement Gotvald, Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin.”

Annette Harris from the US writes:

Vladimír Remek
“After his flight in space on the Russian ship Soyuz he was given the title of Hero of The Soviet Union. He later became the director of the Military Museum for Aviation and Astronautics in Prague and at one time served at the Czech Embassy in Russia. He was elected, for the second time, to the European Parliament in 2009.”

Jayanta Chakrabarty from India:

“Vladimir Remek, the first Czech in space is credited with the honour of being the first astronaut of a country besides the US and Russia. He is also the first man in space from the EU. Born into a military family, young Remek trained himself as an able military pilot. At the young age of 29 and a half years, he dared to achieve the incredible feat of travelling in outer space in the spaceship Soyuz 28 and spending almost eight days in the Salyut 6 space station. Later on he used his expertise to serve as the director of Prague's Military Museum for Aviation and Astronautics. Remek's remarkable achievement will forever remain etched in human history as asteroid 2552 Remek.”

Charles Konecny from Ohio writes:

“Growing up in the communist era, it didn't hurt Remek to have friends in high places (father was a General in the Czech air force) but one must give him credit for mastering the skills it takes to become an astronaut and the privilege of being the first astronaut in space who was not from the USSR or the USA. Further to his credit, he is still active in the European Parliament and helped the Czech Republic become a full member of the European Space Agency. Politics aside, I think it would be great to have a beer with him.”

Thank you very much for your answers, well-researched and interesting as usual. This time the prize goes to Asifa Shaheen from Pakistan. Congratulations! And here is a brand new question for May:

This month we would like to know the name of the Austrian poet and writer born in 1821 in the south Moravian town of Mikulov who developed a system of tactile signing for deaf-blind people named after him.

Please send us his name by the end of May and one of you will win a small Radio Prague gift. All your reception reports, comments and questions are welcome at the usual address or Radio Prague 12099 Prague. Mailbox will be back in two weeks time, on May 21st. Until then, take care.