Observing Cuba from outer space, a great experience

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Observing Cuba from outer space, a great experience
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18 September 2020
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Havana, Sep 18 (Prensa Latina) For Brigadier General Arnaldo Tamayo, first cosmonaut from Cuba and Latin America, observing this Caribbean nation from outer space was a great experience, an exciting moment that he remembers until today.
 
'We crossed the island on September 19 (1980), around seven in the morning. There was little time to observe it, only seconds, but there were few clouds, which allowed us to see it well. It was a very exciting moment, a great joy', he said.

During an interview published by magazine Juventud Técnica on occasion of the 40th anniversary of that trip, he explained that when viewed from space, Cuba resembles a giant crocodile.

The joint mission between Cuba and then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) took off from the Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, on September 18, 1980, with crew members Arnaldo Tamayo and Yuri Romanenko.

Of the eight hours planned for rest, Tamayo only slept four, because he did not want to miss the opportunity to observe the universe, take photos and videos of those moments. 'If this is the only opportunity to be in outer space, I did not come to sleep,' he thought.

As a result of the images taken, he received an award from the soviet TASS news agency, for photographing the sun every 20 seconds, as it emerged on the earth's horizon.

An orphan since he was eight months old, Arnaldo Tamayo was raised by his grandmother in a humble family, so he had to work from age 10.

With the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, he began to study and improve himself for his later enlistment to the Air Force; and later he finished his professional aviation practice in the USSR.

Back in Cuba, he served as a low-level pilot until he became the second chief of the central air regiment, after 17 years of hard work and improvement.

Together with 40 other candidates from the largest of the Antilles, he presented himself to the call for future cosmonauts, who had among its requirements to have over 10 years of experience as a pilot, to be fit from a medical and physical point of view, enough technical knowledge for such a mission, and master the Russian language.

On October 10, 1980, Tamayo and Romanenko were received at the Havana international airport by commander-in-chief, Fidel Castro Ruz, and the entire leadership of this country.

During the entire journey from the airport, in the municipality of Boyeros, then through Plaza de la Revolucion, and up to Marianao, in Havana, people crowded the streets and showed us their joy, describes the Cuban cosmonaut.

According to his account, the affection received in the other provinces of the country during a two-day tour they carried out, was also very shocking.

forty years after that event, 'we continue to celebrate the results of the flight, of Cuban science in the preparation of the experiments, the triumph of a program created by socialism and which marks the history of collaborative relations between Cuba and Russia', Tamayo said.

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