Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez : biography
Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez (born January 29, 1942) was the first Cuban citizen and the first person from a country in the Western Hemisphere other than the United States to travel into earth orbit. He was also the first Latino in space.
Tamayo was selected as part of the Soviet Union's seventh Intercosmos program on March 1, 1978. His backup in the Intercosmos program was fellow Cuban José López Falcón.
Tamayo, along with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko, was launched into space aboard Soyuz 38 from Baikonur Cosmodrome 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 adaptation syndrome, and perhaps even find a cure. After 124 orbits of the Earth (lasting 7 days, 20 hours and 43 minutes), Tamayo and Romanenko landed 180 km from Dzhezkazgan. The landing was risky, as it was during the night.
Following his time in the Intercosmos program, Tamayo was made Director of the Military Patriotic Educational Society known as Sociedad de Educación Patriótico-Militar "SEPMI". (the Cuban version of the Boy Scouts). After his promotion to Brigadier General, he became Director of International Affairs in the Cuban armed forces.
Since 1980, he has been a Deputy in the Cuban National Assembly representing his home region of Guantánamo.
He has been honored by the Cuban Government for being the first Cuban, the first Caribbean, and the first Latin American to go into orbit. He was awarded the titles of "Hero of the Republic of Cuba" and the "Order of the Bay of Pigs." He also is a foreign recipient of the "Hero of the Soviet Union" award.
Tamayo is married and has two daughters and one son.
His space suit is preserved at the Museum of the Revolution in Havana.
Early life and military career
Born in Guantánamo, Tamayo graduated from the Cuban Air Force Academy and became a pilot in the Cuban Air Defense Force.
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