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Happy birthday, Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu

on 27 September 2022

The Romanian Space Agency (ROSA) wishes "Happy Birthday" to the only Romanian cosmonaut, Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, one of the few people who made the dream of going to space come true.

2022 09 Prunariu Image A

On 14 May 1981 Romania was sending the first cosmonaut in space, becoming the 11th country in the world to do this. Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu became the 103-rd person in the world to achieve this.

This opportunity was due to the fact that since 1968 Romania had been part of the Intercosmos intergovernmental agreement of the then socialist countries. Out of 7 finalists, Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu and Dumitru Dediu were selected, and in 1978 the two Romanian candidates started the actual preparations.

The launch took place on 14 May 1981, at 20:16 Romanian time. After 8 minutes and 50 seconds, the spacecraft separated from the last stage. 28 hours passed before the coupling with the orbital station, during which the cosmonauts made two orbital maneuvers, tested the systems of the ship and also had some time to rest. The Soyuz 40 spacecraft coupled with the Salyut 6 orbital station on 15 May, at 21:50 Romanian time.

During the flight, the station crew performed a total of 11 Romanian scientific experiments, 4 proposed by the flight partners and several others not completed by previous Intercosmos crews. The experiments covered astrophysics and cosmic technology as well as the medical and biological categories.

The mission of the two cosmonauts ended on 22 May. After they uncoupled from the orbital station, they completed a full tour of its exterior to take photos in order to show other experts the status of the exterior orbital complex, after 3.5 years of space flight. 

The return to Earth of the Soyuz-40 mission took place on 22 May 1981, at 16:58 local time in Romania, after 7 days, 20 hours, 41 minutes and 52 seconds spent in space. During his space flight Dumitru Prunariu travelled a length of 5.226.000 km at a maximum altitude of 384 km.

Images from the personal archive of Dumitru Dorin Prunariu