Abdul Ahad Momand


Abdul Ahad Momand
Abdul Ahad Momand.jpg
Momand c. 1988
Born1959 (age 61–62)
NationalityAfghan 1959–2003
German 2003–present
Alma materKabul University
Space career
Intercosmos Research Cosmonaut
Time in space
8d 20h 26min
MissionsMir EP-3 (Soyuz TM-6/Soyuz TM-5)
Mission insignia
Soyuz TM-6 patch.svg

Abdul Ahad Momand (Pashto: عبدالاحد مومند‎; born 1959) is a German citizen and former Afghan Air Force aviator who became the first, and currently only, Afghan citizen and fourth 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 holds many records as an Afghan Astronaut. During this mission, Abdul Ahad Momand was the first cosmonaut to speak the Pashto language after he made a telephone call to Afghanistan, making it the fourth language to be officially spoken in space. He became the first Afghan citizen and the fourth Muslim to visit outer space, after Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, Muhammed Faris, and Musa Manarov.


Momand was born sometime in 1959[a][2] in Sardeh Band, Andar District, within the Ghazni Province of Afghanistan.[3] He belongs to the Momand tribe of the Pashtun ethnic group. After completing his initial schooling he entered the Polytechnical University of Kabul in 1976 at the age of 17, and graduated a year later before being drafted into the military in 1978. After being conscripted he was sent to the Soviet Union to train to become a pilot; there he studied at the Krasnodar Higher Air Force School and the Kiev Higher Air Force Engineering School before returning to Afghanistan in 1981, where he rose through the ranks from pilot, wing commander, and then chief navigator. He returned to the USSR in 1984 to train at the Gagarin Air Force Academy. Not long after graduating in 1987, he was selected as a cosmonaut candidate for the Intercosmos project. The other cosmonaut candidate from Afghan sent for training was Mohammad Dawran, a Tajik MiG-21 pilot with the rank of colonel. While Dawran had more political connections than Momand and held a higher military rank (since Momand was a captain at the time), Dawran's appendicitis was the deciding factor in Momand being chosen for the primary crew; Dawran became part of the backup crew.[4]

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 29 August 1988.[5] Momand's inclusion in the mission was a significant symbol during the Soviet–Afghan War.[6]

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.[7]

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. However, their sanitation facilities were onboard the jettisoned orbital module and consequently they soiled themselves during the delay. A recording, colloquially called the der’mo tape, was played of them laughing about this. 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.[8]

Momand was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union on 7 September 1988.[9]

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 5th language spoken in space.[5]

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.[6][10]

Following the collapse of Najibullah's government in 1992, Momand decided to emigrate to Germany, and applied for asylum there, becoming a German citizen in 2003.[11] He worked in printing services and is now an accountant residing in Ostfildern near Stuttgart.[11][12]

See also


  1. ^ Momand's parents, like many Afghans, did not know the exact date he was born and hence indicated his date of birth as the first day of the year.


  1. ^ Abdul Ahad Momand – The First Afghan in Space (August 29 to September 6, 1988) Archived October 28, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Burgess & Vis 2015, p. 252.
  3. ^ Lesnikov, Vasily (2017). Космическое время "Мира" (in Russian). Litres. p. 97. ISBN 978-5-457-03913-1.
  4. ^ Burgess & Vis 2015, p. 252-256.
  5. ^ a b Burgess & Vis 2015, p. 258.
  6. ^ a b Burgess & Vis 2015, p. 263.
  7. ^ Burgess & Vis 2015, p. 258-259.
  8. ^ Burgess & Vis 2015, p. 261.
  9. ^ (in Russian)Biography at the website on Heroes of the Soviet Union and Russia
  10. ^ Norton, Jenny (2014-03-23). "Afghanistan's first spaceman returns home". BBC News. Retrieved 2021-08-20.
  11. ^ a b 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.
  12. ^ Burgess & Vis 2015, p. 264.


  • Burgess, Colin; Vis, Bert (2015). Interkosmos: The Eastern Bloc's Early Space Program. Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-24163-0.

External links

  • Article of Dr. Yasin Iqbal Yousafzai- Abdul Ahad Mohmand Archived 2012-01-19 at the Wayback Machine
  • Biographies of International Astronauts – Abdul Ahad Mohmand
  • First Afghan in Space – Abdul Ahad Momand
  • Abdul Ahad Mohmand – The First Afghan in Space (29 August to 6 September 1988)
  • Abdul Ahad Mohmand The first and Only Afghan Who went to space
  • Nils Fischer “Islamic religious practice in outer space.” ISIM review (2008) 22: 39.