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Arnaldo Tamayo-Méndez PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, May 01, 2005

ImageImagemagine, a man looking out the window of his vehicle, glancing at Earth from about 62 miles above and saying,"¡Ay Dios mío!"

Well, we're not sure if that's exactly what Arnaldo Tamayo-Méndez said to himself while orbiting the Earth a quarter century ago, but the thought may have crossed his mind – and in Spanish!

Tamayo-Méndez, born January 29, 1942, was the first Latino, the first person of African descent, and the first person from an American country other than the United States to travel in space.

Born in Guantánamo, Cuba, Tamayo graduated from the Air Force Academy and became a pilot in the Cuban Air Defense Force. He ascended to Lieutenant Colonel in 1976, and in March 1, 1978 he was selected as part of the seventh International Programme for Intercosmos. His backup cosmonaut was fellow Cuban José López Falcón.

Tamayo, along with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko, was launched into space as part of the Soyuz 38 mission from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 18, 1980, at 19:11 UTC.

After docking with Salyut 6, Tamayo and Romanenko conducted experiments in an attempt to find what caused space sickness, and perhaps even find a cure. After 124 orbits and 7 days, 20 hours and 43 minutes, Tamayo and Romanenko landed 180 km from Dzheskasgan on September 26. The landing was risky, as it was in darkness.

In Moscow, the Soviet Head of State Leonid Brezhnev awarded Tamayo-Memndez with the Lenin Order and the Gold Star of Soviet Union Hero.

Upon his return to Cuba, he was awarded with the first medal of Hero of the Republic of Cuba from Fidel and Raúl Castro.

Following his career as a cosmonaut, Brigade General Tamayo was made director of the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución.

Tamayo is married to Maria Lobaina and has two sons, Orlando (born 1968) and Arnaldo (born 1970). To date he has not been honored with induction into the International Space Hall of Fame.

 



 

Sources:
Mike Shayler for Astro Info Service
; Rubén Urribarres; Wikipedia




 

Comments
. Written by Jay Abreu on Friday, March 24, 2006
As a Dominican child growing up in Harlem, New York it is difficult to fully quantify self-worth and feel validity amongst White & Black people. I was amongst the brightest in the entire school district, avid intellectual with dreams of being a Cosmonaut someday. 
 
I read about Armstrong and the likes of Dr. Jemison and yet no mention of Latinos, in fact there was hardly a Latino mentioned in a positive light. 
 
To hear there was a Latino involved during the dawn of manned spaceflight is revolutionary! 
 
This is the equivalent of White children growing up looking at the faces of their ancestors on the dollar bill or black children reading about Dr. King. 
 
A new day is upon us, a day where the Latino stands equivalent in terms of intelligence and the potential for greatness. The playing field is becoming more leveled by people such as Arnaldo Tamayo-Méndez and the various Latinos in the media/ entertainment who are owning up the their responsibility to tell the world our story. 
 
Ache!!!!!!
Written by Guest on Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Please, how can we fix this? How can we get recognized?

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