Georgi Ivanov The First Bulgarian Cosmonaut

Georgi Ivanov The First Bulgarian Cosmonaut

What an occasion and what a space anniversary to celebrate this April in 2024!

Happy to remember the historic date 10 April 1979 when was the first flight in outer space of Georgi Ivanov, the first Bulgarian cosmonaut.

Georgi Ivanov was born on 02 July 1940 in the town of Lovech. While he was a student at the high school he enrolled in parachutist courses and later in 1957 completed lessons in gliding. Between 1959 until 1978 he served in the Bulgarian air forces. In 1977 Georgi Ivanov together with his Bulgarian colleague Alexander Alexandrov were approved to be part of the second international group in the Soviet Intercosmos program.

On 10 April 1979, 20:34 h Moscow time from Baikonur Cosmodrome the soviet spaceship Съюз 33 / Soyuz 33 was launched together on the board with the Bulgarian cosmonaut Georgi Ivanov and the Russian cosmonaut and commander of the flight Nikolay Rukavishnikov spending almost 2 days in outer space. More precisely the flight took 1 day, 23 hours and 1 minute in space, making 31 complete orbits around the Earth.

The purpose of the mission was docking with Салют 6 / Salyut 6нspace station. The automatic docking system activated but the space mission had to be terminated because of an engine failure during the approach to the station. The next day the crew landed with the spare engine, though with a steep entry through the atmosphere. Apart from the fact that was the first in-orbit failure of the Soyuz propulsion system, this dramatic twist later gave its impact as providing important data for the further development of spaceflights.

Nowadays this historic spacecraft’s descent capsule is a part of the exhibit at Krumovo Aviation Museum in the vicinity of Plovdiv. Apart from the capsule the museum also preserves the original costume and spacesuit of Georgi Ivanov himself. In the museum’s exposition dedicated to Space you could trace not only the development of Bulgarian space equipment but also the Bulgarian space food. Further Bulgaria is considered as the third country in the world after the USA and Russia that ever produced food for cosmonauts.

The last 52 years since Bulgaria has been recognised as a space country.

Earlier than the first flight of the Bulgarian cosmonaut, on 01 December 1972, the first Bulgarian scientific instrument, named Прибор-1 /П-1/ (Pribor-1 /P-1/), that was created by Bulgarian scientists and specialists of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, was launched into the outer space. With the data it sent to Earth laboratories, Bulgaria was recognized as a space-faring country.

Indeed in 1979 Bulgaria was the 6th country in the world sending a cosmonaut to outer space after the USSR, USA, Poland, Hungary and East Germany.

Back to the present day, just two days after this epic space event important for the Bulgarian space society which this year happens to be the 45-years anniversary of the first Bulgarian getting outer space, on 12 April traditionally is celebrated the International Aviation and Cosmonautics Day when back in 1962 Yuri Gagarin performed the first spaceflight ever.

Let’s go!