Sigmund Jähn

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Sigmund Jähn
Sigmund Jahn cropped.jpg
Sigmund Jahn, 1978.
Sigmund Jähn Signature.svg
Interkosmos Cosmonaut
Nationality German
Born (1937-02-13) 13 February 1937 (age 78)
Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz, Saxony, Germany
Other occupation
Rank GDR AF OF6MajGen Fly-suit.JPG Major general,[citation needed] Air Forces of the National People's Army
Time in space
7d 20h 49m
Selection 1976 Intercosmos Group
Missions Soyuz 31/Soyuz 29
Mission insignia
Soyuz 31 mission patch.svg

Sigmund Werner Paul Jähn (born 13 February 1937)[1] is a German pilot, who became the first German to fly in space as part of the Soviet Union's Interkosmos programme.


Jähn was born in Morgenröthe-Rautenkranz, in the Vogtland district of Saxony, Germany. From 1943 to 1951 he attended school in his hometown, and after school trained as a printer.[citation needed]

Sigmund Jähn's national space patch from the airforce of the National People's Army

In 1955 he joined the East German Air Force, where he became a pilot and military scientist.[citation needed] From 1966 until 1970 he studied at the Gagarin Air Force Academy in Monino, in the Soviet Union, and afterwards worked in the administration of the East German air force, responsible for pilot education and flight safety.[citation needed]

Jähn was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on 3 September 1978.[2] In 1983 he received a doctorate at the Zentralinstitut für Physik der Erde (de) in Potsdam, specialising in remote sensing of the earth.[citation needed]

Starting in 1990, after German reunification, he worked as a freelance consultant for the formerly West German spaceflight agency German Aerospace Center (DLR), and from 1993 also for the European Space Agency (ESA) to prepare for the Euromir missions. In 2002 he finally retired from this job.[citation needed]

Jähn is married and has two children. He lives in Strausberg and he enjoys reading and hunting.[citation needed]


Asteroid 17737 was named "Sigmundjähn" in 2001.


Sigmund Jähn, 2009

In 1976, Jähn was selected with his backup Eberhard Köllner for the Interkosmos programme.[citation needed] He trained in Star City near Moscow for the next two years, and flew on board Soyuz 31 (launched 26 August 1978) to the Soviet space station Salyut 6, and returned on Soyuz 29, landing on 3 September 1978. He spent 7 days, 20 hours, and 49 minutes in space.

During and after the flight, he and the socialist authorities of the GDR pronounced him "the first German cosmonaut", which was remarkable, as in those days the East German state normally stressed that their people were "GDR citizens", to distinguish themselves from West Germany.[citation needed]


  • "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)[3]
  • "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)[4]
  • "As a pilot I just could not resist the offer to fly a space capsule…" (speech in front of DLR audience, 2005)[5]

Cultural influence[edit]

  • A taxi driver greatly resembling Jähn (played by Swiss actor Stefan Walz) appears in the German film Good Bye, Lenin!.[6]
  • 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.[7]


  1. ^ "Biografie von Sigmund Jähn". European Space Agency. 
  2. ^ Biography at the website on Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia (Russian)
  3. ^ cited at Bild site "Erster Deutscher im Weltraum" (German)
  4. ^ cited at MDR site "Damals in der DDR" (German)
  5. ^ cited at German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten site "Sigmund Jähn: erster Deutscher im All" (German)
  6. ^ Goodbye, Lenin! at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ "Werke 1999"

External links[edit]

Media related to Sigmund Jähn at Wikimedia Commons