Vladimír Remek

Vladimír Remek (born 26 September 1948) is a Czech politician and diplomat as well as a former cosmonaut and military pilot. He flew aboard Soyuz 28 from 2 to 10 March 1978, becoming the first and only Czechoslovak in space. As the first cosmonaut from a country other than the Soviet Union or the United States, and with the entry of the Czech Republic and Slovakia into the European Union, Remek is considered to be the first astronaut from the European Union. Remek was a member of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2013 for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. From 2014 to 2018 he was the Czech Ambassador to Russia.

Vladimír Remek
Czech Republic Ambassador to Russia
In office
January 2014  2018
PresidentMiloš Zeman
Preceded byPetr Kolář
Succeeded byVladimír Pivoňka
Member of the European Parliament
In office
20 July 2004  15 December 2013
Personal details
Born (1948-09-26) 26 September 1948 (age 72)
České Budějovice, Czechoslovakia
NationalityCzechoslovak, Czech
Political partyCommunist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
Hana Davidová (divorced)[1]
  • Jana Remková[2]
Occupationpilot, cosmonaut, Member of European Parliament, ambassador
Military service
Branch/serviceCzechoslovak Air Force
Years of service1970–95
Unit1st Fighter Air Regiment
CommandsDeputy, 2nd Air Defense Division

Space career
Intercosmos Cosmonaut
Time in space
7d 22h 17m[6]
SelectionAir Force Group 6
MissionsSoyuz 28
Mission insignia

Early life and military career

Remek was born on 26 September 1948 in the city of České Budějovice.[7] He spent two years studying at the observatory in Kraví hora, Brno between 1962 and 1964.[8] Remek was influenced by his father, Jozef Remek, himself a military pilot.[9] Remek was an active member both in the Pioneers and the Czechoslovak Union of Youth. He studied mathematics and physics at middle school in Čáslav where he earned awards in track running the 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1,500-meter events. Remek graduated in 1966 and proceeded to Vyšší Letecké Učiliště, an aviation school in Košice, where he trained in an Aero L-29 Delfín.[10] Remek graduated in 1970 and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Czechoslovak Air Force.[7][11] Remek served as a fighter pilot, flying MiG-21s in the 1st Fighter Air Regiment.[12] In the 1970s Remek married his first wife, Czech actress Hana Davidová, the daughter of politician Václav David. They had a daughter together, Anna, in 1980.[1] He had a second daughter, Jana, three years after the first,[13] with his second wife, also called Jana.[2][14]

From 1972 to 1976, Remek studied at the Gagarin Air Force Academy. Upon his return to Czechoslovakia in 1976, he was promoted to captain and appointed deputy commander of his fighter regiment, after which Remek went back to Russia to train for the Soviet-led space program. Following his return from space in March 1978, Remek spent time in the Czechoslovak People's Army (ČSLA) staff as the deputy director of the Flight Research Institute in Prague.[15] In 1986, Remek became the deputy commander of a flight division based in Čáslav. In 1988 he graduated from Voroshilov-Staff Academy of Soviet Air Force and was appointed to his highest command, as deputy of the 2nd Air Defense Division stationed in Moravia.[5][10] Following the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Remek was relegated to a role as Director of the Museum for Aviation and Astronautics in Prague.[5] Following his retirement from the air force in 1995, Remek represented Czech firm CZ Strakonice and joint venture CZ–Turbo-GAZ in Moscow.[2][5][16]

Intercosmos program

Module used by Remek to return to Earth

Remek (then a Captain) joined the Interkosmos program in 1976; his backup was Oldřich Pelčák, the other Czechoslovak cosmonaut selected to participate with the program. During the flight, Remek experimented with the Kristall furnace on board the capsule.[17] The mission, coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the Soviet-backed 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état, and including Remek, the son of a Czech mother and Slovak father, had propaganda value in stressing Czechoslovak-Soviet cooperation.[18] Remek himself has not denied this although he retains pride in his voyage regardless of the circumstances. On the Soyuz 28 mission that launched 2 March 1978, he became the first cosmonaut from a country other than the Soviet Union or the United States, and with the entry of the Czech Republic into the European Union, Remek is considered to be the first astronaut from the European Union.[19][20] After Remek's flight, he was celebrated in his home country with a series of receptions at factories and other civil workplaces. He was also recognized at a ceremony at Prague Castle as a guest of Gustáv Husák, then the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.[21] On 16 March, Remek and Aleksei Gubarev, the other member of the crew, were awarded the medal Hero of the Soviet Union.[22] Czechoslovak reaction to Remek's flight included comments about the media's inundation focused on Remek and the fact that he was only able to journey with a Soviet cosmonaut as if Remek needed a minder. One joke went: "Why didn't the Soviets send up two Czechoslovak cosmonauts? Because they would've landed in West Germany." Remek himself joked that his Soviet counterpart would slap Remek's hands off of controls if he touched anything without permission.[23] French astronaut Jean-Loup Chrétien experienced this same behavior onboard Soyuz TM-7 in 1988.[24][25]

Political career

Due in part to his previous business contacts in Russia, Remek was appointed to the Czech Embassy in Moscow as a Trade and Economic Counselor.[2][16] During the 2004 European Parliament election, Remek was a candidate for the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and, being second on the list behind Miloslav Ransdorf, was elected into the European Parliament.[26] During his first term (20 July 2004 to 13 July 2009), Remek was a member of the Confederal Group of the European United Left–Nordic Green Left in the European Parliament.[27] He was a vocal proponent of the EU's Galileo satellite constellation, warning that bureaucratic delay could cede opportunity to the BeiDou, a Chinese competitor.[28] He was reelected in 2009. When Petr Kolář resigned as the Czech Ambassador to Russia in December 2012, the ambassadorship sat empty for a year until the President of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman, appointed Remek in January 2014.[29] The appointment met with controversy as it was against the wishes of Zeman's Foreign Minister, Karel Schwarzenberg.[30] Observers have noted Remek has a friendly history with the Russians and although his communist affiliations are a minority in Russia, his appointment represents Zeman's pragmatic and pro-Russia stance.[31][32]

In popular culture

Statue of Remek and Gubarev in Košice

Czech astronomer Antonín Mrkos discovered an asteroid in September 1978 and named it 2552 Remek after the cosmonaut.[33] Remek is featured in a 2009 independent comedy film called Osadne about three residents from Osadné that seek out Remek at his office in Brussels to help tourism in their town.[34] Sculptor Jan Bartoš created a statue of Remek and Gubarev, which is located at Háje metro station, formerly known as Kosmonautů (meaning [station of] the astronauts) until 1990, in Prague.[35] Another statue of Remek is located in Košice, Slovakia.[36]


  • Splněné náděje. Panorama. 1979.
  • Richter, Karel, ed. (1982). Pod námi planeta země. Prague: Naše Vojsko.
  • Kosmická budoucnost lidstva: Města v kosmu. MF. 1986.

See also


  1. "Hana Davidová". Czecho-Slovak film database (in Czech). Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  2. "Vladimír Remek Curriculum Vitae" (doc). Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2 December 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. "Vladimir Remek". persona.rin.ru. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  4. "за большой вклад в развитие международного сотрудничества в области пилотируемой космонавтики" (PDF) (in Russian). kremlin.ru. Retrieved 2 December 2014. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. "Biographies of International Astronauts; Remek, Vladimír "Volodya"". Space Facts. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  6. Molloy 2009, p. 104.
  7. "Sojuz 28 v L+K č. 5/1978". MEK (in Czech). 17 February 2003. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  8. "Historie". Hvězdárna a planetárium Brno (in Czech). Archived from the original on 14 March 2012.
  9. kol. aut.: Kdo byl kdo v našich dějinách 20. století (in Czech). Prague: Libri. 1994. p. 452. ISBN 978-80-901579-5-8.
  10. "Gathering of Eagles bio: Vladimir Remek". Air University (United States Air Force). Archived from the original on 23 April 2006.
  11. Evans 2011, p. 316.
  12. "On-line rozhovor : Ptejte se prvního a zatím posledního Čechoslováka ve vesmíru". technet.idnes.cz (in Czech). 10 March 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  13. Šimončič, Andrej (6 March 2008). "Vladimír Remek: Prvý od nás" (in Slovak). Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  14. Strašíková, Lucie (10 March 2009). "Remek strávil ve vesmíru osm dní". ČT24 (in Czech). Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  15. "Vladimír Remek". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  16. "Prvý československý kozmonaut, plukovník Vladimír Remek, sa vrátil na miesta, kde kedysi študoval". Košický Korzár (in Czech). 30 October 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  17. Martin-Smith, Michael (2000). Man, Medicine and Space: A Manifesto for the Millennium. iUniverse. p. 122. ISBN 0-595-14808-5.
  18. Roberts, Andrew Lawrence (2005). From Good King Wenceslas to the Good Soldier Švejk: A Dictionary of Czech Popular Culture. Central European University Press. p. 141. ISBN 963-7326-26-X.
  19. "Commemorating 30 years of European human space flight". EU CORDIS. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  20. "Vladimir Remek". European Space Agency. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  21. Evans, Ben (6 March 2012). "'It Wasn't a Sense of Guilt": The Flight of Vladimir Remek". Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  22. Molloy 2009, pp. 103–106.
  23. Rich, Vera (1999). "Watch this space". Index on Censorship. 28 (3): 89–93. doi:10.1080/03064229908536592.
  24. "Remek Jokes a New Fad". Argus-Press. 17 May 1978. p. 17.
  25. Hall, Rex D.; David, Shayler; Vis, Bert (2007). Russia's Cosmonauts: Inside the Yuri Gagarin Training Center. Springer-Praxis books in space exploration. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 213. ISBN 0-387-73975-0.
  26. "Remek to take up post as ambassador to Russia on 16 Jan". Prague Daily Monitor. 14 January 2014. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014.
  27. "European Parliament / MEPs". European Parliament. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  28. Associated Press (7 June 2007). "Ex-Cosmonaut: EU Space Lag Could Put China Ahead". Fox News Channel. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  29. "Ex-cosmonaut to be Czech ambassador to Russia". The Prague Post. 30 December 2013. Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  30. "Zeman proposes Livia Klausova as ambassador to Slovakia". 29 March 2013. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  31. Willoughby, Ian (13 November 2013). "Cosmonaut and Communist MEP Remek returning to Moscow as Czech ambassador". Radio Prague.
  32. Pesek, Petr (17 January 2014). "Czech press survey". Lidové noviny. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  33. "2552 Remek (1978 SP)". Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  34. "Osadne". International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Archived from the original on 11 December 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  35. Fedorenko, Anton (18 November 2006). "sousoší Kosmonautů" (in Czech). Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  36. Sambor, Miroslav (30 October 2010). "Aby pred letom nechytil herpes, ruky si musel ošetrovať alkoholom Prvý československý kozmonaut, plukovník Vladimír Remek, sa vrátil na miesta, kde kedysi študoval" (in Slovak). Retrieved 8 September 2015.