Soyuz 28 was launched March 2, 1978
, and was the third mission to dock with Salyut 6. It also carried the first person into space who was not a citizen
or Soviet Union
*. It was the first mission in the Intercosmos
program that have Eastern Bloc
and other Communist
countries access to space through manned and unmanned launches.
On board were Aleksei Gubarev from the USSR and Vladimír Remek from the Czechslovak Socialist Republic. Their callsign for the mission was Zenit (Zenith).
They docked with Salyut 6, who was already occupied by Georgi Grechko and Yuri Romanenko. All Intercosmos missions it was seven days and 21.5 hours plus minus one hour in length. This meant that no country could be offended by the fact that such and such country had a longer flight and possibly perceive that the Soviet Union liked that country more!
The mission was mostly for propaganda purposes. The four crew on Salyut 6 received messages from Leonid Brezhnev and Gustav Husak, the leader of Czechoslovakia. It was hoped that the Intercosmos flights would help prop up some of the failing communist regimes in the Eastern Bloc. Husak was unpopular in Czechoslovakia after reversing the reforms of his predecessor (who had been ousted by Warsaw Pact countries). Romanenko spoke on behalf of the crew saying:
We shall apply all our strengths and knowledge to defend the great honour of this international crew, which has started to carry our this joint program of socialist countries' research and utilisation of outer space for peaceful purposes.
As for experiments these were standardised over all the Intercosmos missions. There was a variety of cardiovascular
experiments, some multispectral photography
of the visitors home country and one or two experiments developed by scientists in the visiting cosmonauts country. In Remek's case these were material processing
The time was agony for one of the long duration crew members, Romanenko. He had developed an excruciating toothache and there was little that they could do on the station. All that the doctors at mission control could suggest was that he washed his mouth with warm water and keep warm. By the end of the mission (they landed only six days after the Soyuz 28 crew), a nerve had been exposed.
The circular patch features a stylised version of the Salyut 6 space station. At the bottom are the Soviet and Czechoslovak flags on either side of a red star. There are five gold stars, with a map centred on the Soviet Union in the background. This patch was worn on the right sleeve of the intravehicular suits.
The guest cosmonauts had usually received a minimum of training, compounded by the fact that often they didn't speak Russian. As such a joke appeared soon after the mission that Remek's hand had mysteriously turned red after the mission. He informed the doctors that this was because everytime he went to touch something, the Russian crewmembers would slap his hand and yell, "Don't touch that!"
The crew laned 135 km north of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan in the Soyuz 28 spacecraft.
Though Remek was not the first person born outside these countries to be launched into space. For example, Michael Collins of Apollo 11 fame was born in Rome, Italy.