Sigmund Jahn, 1978.
13 February 1937 |
Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz, Saxony, Germany
|Rank||Major general, Air Forces of the National People's Army|
Time in space
|7d 20h 49m|
|Selection||1976 Intercosmos Group|
|Missions||Soyuz 31/Soyuz 29|
Jähn was born on 13 February 1937 in Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz, in the Vogtland district of Saxony, Germany. From 1943 to 1951 he attended school in his hometown. He trained as a printer until 1954 and then managed the pioneer program in a local school.
On 26 April 1955 he joined the East German Air Force, where he became a pilot. From 1961 to 1963 he was deputy commander for political work and from in 1965 became responsible for air tactics and air shooting. From 1966 to 1970 he studied at the Gagarin Air Force Academy in Monino, in the Soviet Union. From 1970 to 1976, he worked in the administration of the East German air force, responsible for pilot education and flight safety.
On 25 November 1976, Jähn and his backup Eberhard Köllner were selected for the Interkosmos program. After a brief period of basic training, they devoted a year to mission specific training. He trained in Star City near Moscow. He flew on board Soyuz 31, launched 26 August 1978 to the Soviet space station Salyut 6. he conducted experiments in remote sensing of the earth, medicine, biology, materials science, and geophysics. He returned on Soyuz 29 after 124 orbits and landed on 3 September 1978. He spent 7 days, 20 hours, and 49 minutes in space. Because the Soviet and American space programs maintained distinctive vocabularies, he was a cosmonaut rather than an astronaut.
During and after the flight, he and the socialist authorities of the GDR pronounced him "the first German cosmonaut", which was unusual because the East German state normally maintained careful distinctions between citizens of the GDR and citizens of West Germany.
Upon his return he headed the East Germany Army's Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow until German unification in 1990, when he left the East German military with the rank of major general. Jähn was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on 3 September 1978. In 1983 he received a doctorate at the Zentralinstitut für Physik der Erde in Potsdam, specialising in remote sensing of the earth. He was instrumental in forming the Association of Space Explorers. He was a founding member in 1985 and served for several years on its Executive Committee.
In 2011, on the 50th anniversary of the first manned space flight by Yuri Gagarin, he explained to Der Spiegel that his taking a toy figure on his flight was not a personal choice. He took a Sandmännchen, a animated character featured on an East German children's television show, in order to film material for the show. Because he and fellow cosmonaut Vladimir Kovalyonok joked about Sandmännchen marrying another toy figure of the Russia mascot Masha, authorities found the material unsuitable for the public.
Jähn is married and has two children. He lives in Strausberg and he enjoys reading and hunting.
Awards and recognition
- Hero of the GDR
- Hero of the Soviet Union
- Order of Karl Marx
- Order of Lenin
- Space Exploration Medal
- Meritorious Military Pilot of the German Democratic Republic
- Asteroid 17737 was named "Sigmundjähn" in 2001.
- In 2011, he was made an honorary member of the Leibniz Society of Berlin.
- "Dear TV viewers in the German Democratic Republic. I am very happy for the chance to be the first German to take part in this manned space flight." (during his space flight)
- "Mankind is advanced technically. Man can build space stations, can assemble them in space, and ponders about landing on Mars, but the development of mankind itself seems to stagnate on stone age level." (Radio broadcast in the 1990s)
- "…what I saw then was total happiness: Our Earth, in shining in bright blue. Just like a dream." (SUPERillu magazine interview, 1998)
- "As a pilot I just could not resist the offer to fly a space capsule…" (speech in front of DLR audience, 2005)
- A taxi driver greatly resembling Jähn (played by Swiss actor Stefan Walz) appears in the German film Good Bye, Lenin!.
- German pop group Die Prinzen, from the same region of Germany, recorded a song entitled "Wer ist Sigmund Jähn?" ("Who is Sigmund Jähn?") on their 1999 album So viel Spaß für wenig Geld.
- "Biografie von Sigmund Jähn" (in German). European Space Agency. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
- "Biography". Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia (in Russian).
- "East German Cosmonaut Sigmund Jähn 'Capitalism Now Reigns in Space'". Der Spiegel. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
- "Zum Ehreitglied der Leibniz-Societät gewält: Dr. Sigmund Jähn" (Press release) (in German). 1 March 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
- cited at Bild site "Erster Deutscher im Weltraum" (German)
- cited at MDR site "Damals in der DDR" (German)
- cited at German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten site "Sigmund Jähn: erster Deutscher im All" (German)
- Goodbye, Lenin! at the Internet Movie Database
- "Werke 1999"
Media related to Sigmund Jähn at Wikimedia Commons