Interview with astronaut Bertalan Farkas on the l8th anniversaiy
of his historic flight Bertalan Farkas Astronaut Flying Officer
in Hungarian Air Force. Born 1949 in Gyulaháza. Married with 3 children.
ln 1980 as part of the lntercosmos programme together with Soviet
cosmonauts Kubasov L. Popov and V. Riumin the took part in space
flight lasting 8 days and involving SOYUT-6 and SOYUZ-35 and SOYUZ-36.
There is nothing special about me. I was just given a great opportunity.
When you've been in space you feel a much greater responsibility
for man the Earth and the Future. Mankind should concentrate on
developing natural sources of energy for instance solar water and
BPG: When did you first want to fly ?
BF: When I was a child I had no thought of being an astronaut.I
seem to remember I wanted to be a footballer. I was a big fan of
Ferencváros. My parents considered football too dangerous so I chose
a less risky career and decided to be a pilot. I passed the entrance
exam for the Kilian György Technical College of Aviation. I graduated
as a pilot officer in 1972 : By 1978 I had flown more than 1 000
hours as a fighter pilot flying faster than the speed of sound many
BPG: How did you become an astronaut ?
BF: ln 1977 a selection process was begun in Hungary to choose
candidates for space flights. The choise was made on purely objective
grounds since the doctors and engineers on the selection panel knew
how vitally important it was to choose the right person for the
job. You have to belive in yourself and have a positive attitude
if you want to be an astronaut.I began my traming at the "Star City"
Astronaut Training Centre. Each country taking part in the programme
was allowed to sent 2 trainee astronauts. In Hungary there were
about 110 applicants and after a very rigorous selection procedure
finally Béla Magyari who later became reserve astronaut and I were
chosen. On May 26th 1980 at 19.20 hours SOYUZ-36 was launched into
space with me on board as Hungary's first and up till now only astronaut.
As part of the lntercosmos programme the former Soviet Union allowed
the ex-sociallst countries to take part in spaceˇ research.
BPG: What type of research was carried out in space ?
BF: On the SOYUT-6 space station experiments were done in the fields
of physiology metals technology physics remote sensing and energy
sources. We Hungarians made some instruments that proved very effective
in space for example the "Pille" and the "Balaton". The "Pille"
was used to measure cosmic radiation: Up there 350 km above the
earth we measured the strength of the cosmic rediation reaching
us which we found to be tolerable. Weightlessness imposes a greater
strain on astronauts especially on their bones muscles veins and
blood circulation system.
BPG After SOYUZ3S returned to Earth did you continue your involvement
in space research ?
SOYUZ-35 touched down on June 3rd 1980 at 16.07 hours but that wasn't
the end of may involvement in space research. I am in contact with
the Hungarian scientific institutes that are involved in space research
for example the Technical University of Budapest.I am a member of
the International Federation of Astronauts and I am also a member
of many other organisations and associations.
The International Federation of Astronauts assembles every year
in a different country to discuss the problems of the day or analyse
past events but most of its time is spent on discussing and planning
future space research projects. This year will see work begin on
assembling the International Space Station which should be completed
by 2002. At 370-400 tons it will be 4 times heavier than previous
BPG What is the present state of space research and what benefits
does it bring to mankind ?
BF: Putting a man on the Moon was a great achievement.The next
big challenge is to send a man to Mars. We have the technology and
if the money is forthcoming I am sure that in the next 10-20 years
there will be a manned mission to Mars. We need to create conditions
in a space station that would allow us to reproduce nature's cycle.
Every technological advance made in the field of space research
is applied in our everyday lives. Space research involves many different
types of scientists for example computer experts doctors meteorologiests
geologists and cartog replíers. Without it life would be a lot more
difficult - it is thanks to space research that we have our telephone
networks lnternet teflon non-stick products and the G.P.S. system
which is used in the making of maps surveying and in the prepara
tion of plans for motor ways etc. Since September 1988 during every
second of the day there have been at least 2 astronauts somewhere
out there in space.
BPG: What do you think about John Glenn; who is in his seventees
going in to space again ?
BF:I think it's manrellous! If I had the opportunity I myself would
go into space again - without any hesitation!