April 12 is the Cosmonautics Day and International Day of Human Space Flight. On this day in 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in history to journey into outer space.
Armenians have also made their contribution to the development of astronautics. Remarkably, Armenians have for centuries studied space and the Universe.
Andranik Iosifyan (July 21, 1905 – April 13, 1993)
Andranik Iosifyan was among the most talented and courageous scientists who managed to ensure the technological progress of the Soviet Union.
The main achievement of the academician who was the first president of the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Electromechanics (VNIIEM) was the participation in the creation of rocket and space technology – in particular, electromechanical devices for rockets, satellites, and spacecraft.
In the middle of the 20th century, the Omega satellite was developed and launched under the guidance of Iosifyan. Later, Iosifyan became the chief designer of the Meteor satellite.
James Philip Bagian (born February 22, 1952)
In March 1989, an American astronaut of Armenian descent James Philip Bagian flew into space aboard the Discovery spacecraft within the scope of the Space Shuttle program. He was a specialist in medical and biological research.
Bagian became the first doctor to treat astronauts’ ailments associated with zero gravity. In addition, Bagian has done a lot of research in outer space. Bagian ‘s second flight took place in 1991 on the Columbia spacecraft.
US Air Force Colonel Bagian has many awards and state prizes.
Yervant Terzian (February 9, 1939)
In 2018, the “Tisch Distinguished University Professor” and astronomer Yervant Terzian was awarded the Distinguished Public Service Medal by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Terzian has worked in eight NASA committees and has taught astronomy at US colleges. He is best known for his investigation of the intergalactic space and the discovery of invisible matter in it.
The astronomer has also been awarded the NASA Lifetime Achievement Award and the Gold Medal of Armenia for his scientific achievements.
Alexander Kemurdzhian (October 4, 1921 – February 25, 2003)
The creation of the first lunar rover wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of Soviet engineer Alexander Kemurdzhian. He was the chief designer of the self-propelled chassis which allowed Lunokhod rovers to move independently on the surface of the Moon.
The creation of Lunokhod rovers became the mission of Kemurdzhian’s life which he took upon in the early 1960s. The work of the designer was successful. The world’s first automatic Lunokhod-1 was delivered to the Moon on November 17, 1970. Later, Lunokhod-2 and Lunokhod-3 landed on the Moon as well.
Mars rovers were also made under the leadership of Kemurdzhian. However, the scientific team was unable to establish communication with the rovers after they had landed on Mars.
Later, on the basis of Kemurdzhian’s lunar rovers, the American Apollo lunar roving vehicle, the Sojourner rover, and the Yutu Chinese lunar rover were created. In addition, the NASA Mars Exploration Program and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover were developed.
Anna Kazanjian Longobardo
Having defended her thesis in 1952, Anna Kazanjian Longobardo became the first female scientist in the field of control systems.
In the early 1960s, she began working in the research group of the US Atlas rocket missile family. Thanks to Kazanjian’s calculations, NASA was able to launch the Ranger, Midas, and Mariner satellites into space.
After such success, Anna Kazanjian Longobardo was entrusted with the development of Saturn rockets. The Armenian-American scientist laid the foundation for the creation of the first American launch vehicle and also personally participated in its test flight.