MOSCOW, February 22 (RIA Novosti) – Russian cosmonaut Valery Kubasov, who flew on the first joint US-Soviet space mission, died earlier this week at the age of 80, the Energia space company has said.
Kubasov, twice named Hero of the Soviet Union, flew in space three times, including on the historic Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975 that saw an American Apollo and Soviet Soyuz spacecraft dock with one another.
A photograph of crewmate Alexei Leonov and US astronaut Thomas P. Stafford shaking hands across an open hatch became a symbol of the easing of tensions between the two Cold War rival superpowers during the decade of detente in the 1970s.
Kubasov had previously flown in 1969 on the Soyuz-6 mission, which took part in the first formation flight of three spacecraft.
On his final mission in 1980 he commanded the Soyuz-36 mission and spent two months aboard the Salyut-6 space station.
Kubasov, originally trained as an engineer, remained active as a manager and technical consultant in Russian space projects in the post-Soviet era.
A funeral service in Moscow for the cosmonaut was scheduled for Saturday.