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The Pashtun Astronaut

Astronauts are very mind-boggling life form, always eager to explore the territory beyond our home earth.

It would not be inappropriate to classify them as separate species as commonly humans are desirous to travel to different places on Earth, they dream of traveling the space and reaching outposts on the frontier of universe.

Their long and dangerous voyages under zero gravity take them to mysterious and enchanting places.

The stories of their adventures are written in mankind history with golden words and are told to generations.

One such story is of Abdul Ahad Mohmand, the Pashtun who travelled into outer space breaking all negative stereotypes and racial profiling associated with Pashtun community.

Abdul Ahad Mohmand was an Air Force Pilot before he was hand-picked from more than four hundred candidates to be the first Pashtun to join Soviet Space Programme and moved at the age of twenty nine to the Cosmonauts Training Center in Star City, outside Moscow where he completed his training at an accelerating pace as an astronaut.

He was launched in space as a crew member of Soyuz TM-6 in 1988 and spent nine days aboard the Mir Space Station.

This mission to outer space consisted of three members: Vladmir Lyakhov as Commander, Valeri Polyalov as Research Doctor and Abdul Ahad Mohmand as Research Cosmonaut.

He also carried Quran with him and recited Quran in space during which he was also filmed.

During his stay in Mir Space Station, he made teleconference with his family which made Pashto the fourth language to be spoken in space. In the midst of their voyage back to Earth, the ship’s computer software malfunctioned with a sensor problem.

While his partner waited for instructions from Mission Control Center, Abdul Ahad noticed that the computer was preparing to jettison their fuel and batteries.

He stopped this mishap from happening and thereby saving himself and his partner from spending rest of his life in outer space spinning around the Earth until his air ran out and the capsule shattered and annihilated in atmosphere.

James Oberg, a space historian said, “He was literally one of half dozen astronauts who thought their way out of dying”. Their predicament made headlines around the world.

Abdul Ahad and Vladmir Lyakhov landed safely near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan after being stranded in orbit for twenty five hours. When they disembarked successfully after their bumpy ride back home, they were smiling grandly as they came out to face Soviet television crews realizing the grave danger which they just had surpassed as they would had been dead if the mishap during their journey back to Earth had materialized.

At the news conference, the astronauts also described what it was like to be stranded in space with diminishing air, food and water supplies.

When asked that what were they doing when their spaceship was stranded in orbit, he told that they were telling jokes to each other.

For his trouble, bravery and quick accurate response during the haphazard condition faced in phase of deorbiting, he was entitled as Hero of Soviet Union. The title of Hero of Soviet Union was the highest distinction in the Soviet Union for heroic feats. He was also bestowed Order of Lenin, the highest civilian award of U.S.S.R.

This was the highest point in life of this Pashtun Astronaut and the world awed during his expedition from Earth to space and circling back. He was like a cowboy stepping into uncharted territory of Wild Wild West.

This is the saga of Pashtun astronaut and daredevil in outer space excursion which the world will never consign to oblivion and is eternize forever.

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