Abdul Ahad Mohmand

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Abdul Ahad Mohmand
Intercosmos Research Cosmonaut
Nationality Afghan
Status Retired
Born (1959-01-01) January 1, 1959 (age 63)
Sardah, Afghanistan
Other occupation
Kabul University
Rank Colonel
Time in space
8d 20h 26min
Selection 1988
Missions Mir EP-3 (Soyuz TM-6/Soyuz TM-5)
Mission insignia
Soyuz TM-6 patch.svg

Abdul Ahad Momand (Pashto: عبد الاحد مومند‎, born January 1, 1959) is a former Afghan Air Force aviator who became the first Afghan,and 4th Muslim to journey to outer space. He became one of Soyuz TM-6 crew members and spent nine days aboard the Mir space station in 1988 as an Intercosmos Research Cosmonaut.[1] He became the fourth Muslim to visit outer space, after Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, Muhammed Faris, and Musa Manarov. Pashto is considered the fourth spoken language in space after he made a telephone call to Afghanistan. Momand is also believed to be the first Muslim who took the Qur'an to space.[citation needed]


Momand was born on 1 January 1959 in Sardah, in the Ghazni Province of Afghanistan. He belongs to the Mohmand tribe of the Pashtun ethnic group. Momand graduated from the Polytechnical University of Kabul and then from the Air Force Academy. He served in the Afghan Air Force (AAF) and later trained in the Soviet Union as a pilot and a professional astronaut.[2]

Along with Commander Vladimir Lyakhov and Flight Engineer Valery Polyakov, Momand was part of the Soyuz TM-6 three-man crew, which launched at 04:23 GMT August 29, 1988. Momand's inclusion in the mission was a significant symbol during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

During his nine days stay on the Mir space station, Momand took photographs of his country, participated in astrophysical, medical and biological experiments. He also spoke to Afghanistan’s president, Mohammed Najibullah, and brewed Afghan tea for the crew.

Lyakhov and Momand returned to Earth aboard Soyuz TM-5. The September 6 planned landing of Soyuz TM-5 was delayed because of mechanical complications on the Mir. Radio Moscow reassured listeners that Lyakhov and Momand were fine and in touch with Mission Control. A recording was played of them laughing. A day later, the retro-fire was successful, and at 00:50 GMT Soyuz TM-5 landed near Dzhezkazgan. During touchdown there was no live radio coverage, only live television pictures of Mission Control.

Momand was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on September 7, 1988.[3]

During his flight to space, his mother was extremely distraught over the safety of her son. Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah called Momand's mother into the President's office and arranged an audio/video conference between Momand and her. By this event, Pashto became the fourth spoken language in space.

On his return he was made Deputy Civil Aviation Minister, but was a short posting due to the failure of Soviet forces against the Mujahideen take over.

Following the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, Momand decided to emigrate to Germany in 1992 and applied for asylum there, becoming a German citizen in 2003.[4] He worked in printing services and now as an accountant residing in Ostfildern near Stuttgart.[4]

See also


  1. Abdul Ahad Momand – The First Afghan in Space (August 29 to September 6, 1988)
  2. First Afghan In Space – Abdul Ahad Momand
  3. (Russian)Biography at the website on Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia
  4. 4.0 4.1 Meinhardt, Birk (1–2 April 2010). "Mister Universum". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). Munich. p. 3. Er ist der einzige Afghane, der je ins All fliegen durfte. Von dort sah Abdulahad [sic] Momand die Erde und war sehr stolz um sie. Zurück auf dem Boden aber mußte er aus seiner Heimat fliehen – und sich durch die deutsche Welt kämpfen.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links