Ivan Bella is the first and so far the only Slovak astronaut. The Slovaks appreciate him in the same way as the Russians do Gagarin and his flight helped Slovakia become part of the club of space countries.
He was born in Brezno, central Slovakia and he studied at Military Secondary School in Banská Bystrica and at Military Air Academy SNP in Košice. In 1983 he became a pilot and from 1993 he served in 33rd air base of fighters and bombing aircrafts in Malacky.
As he fulfilled all the demanding criteria for an astronaut, he was chosen as the Slovak candidate for a space flight of historical importance.
The space shuttle Sojuz TM-29 took off from the space centre Bajkonur in Kazachstan on 20th February 1999. Ivan Bella performed several medical experiments in his cockpit and also the unique test with quails aimed at the possibility of their surviving during long-haul flights.
Ivan Bella was among the last residents of the space station Mir launched into space in 1986. He spent 6 days on the orbital space station.
source: Vydavateľstvo Dajama