How Franz Viehböck became the Austromir Cosmonaut
It was a great day for humankind when Yuri Gagarin carried out the first human spaceflight on the 12th of April 1961. A blow to the USA, but a triumph for the former Soviet Union, as this historic event put them ahead in the Space Race.
To celebrate this day, we want to look back not at the first human in space, but the first Austrian in space!
Franz Viehböck made history himself when he flew on the Austromir Mission in 1991.
It all already started in 1988, when both the governments of Austria and the USSR decided to carry out a joint mission with the first Austrian cosmonaut on board. But who would that be? After posting an ad in the newspaper "Österreichische Tasgeszeitung", over 220 people, 20 women among them, applied for the historic mission. 198 of these applications fulfilled all necessary requirements. Requirements included excellent health, an education in the areas of natural science, technology or medicine, Austrian citizenship, a minimum age of 30 and maximum age of 40 years old, the willingness for an intensive 18 month training, and if possible, a knowledge of the Russian language. Two candidates were to be selected. The two elected candidates ended up being engineer Franz Viehböck and the doctor Clemens Lothaller. Their training in the Russian Star City began in 1990.
On the 2nd of October, a Soyuz TM-13 rocket launched from Baikonur, carrying the first Austrian cosmonaut Franz Viehböck to the Russian space station MIR.
On the 4th of October 1991, Viehböck arrived at the space station, where he stayed until the 10th of October, carrying out many Austrian experiments.
Up to this day, he is the only Austrian in space.