Birthday: July 2, 1940
Age: 80 Years, 80 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Georgi Ivanov Kakalov
Born in: Lovech
Famous as: Cosmonaut
Height: 1.61 m
Spouse/Ex-: Lidia Ivanova, Natalya Rousanova
father: Ivan Ivanov Kakalov
mother: Anastasiya Kakalova
children: Ani Ivanova, Ivan Ivanov
awards: 1979 - Hero of the Soviet Union
1979 - Hero of the People's Republic of Bulgaria
1979 - Order of Lenin
1979 - Medal
Retired Lieutenant General Georgi Ivanov is Bulgaria’s first astronaut. After completing his education from a military school, he entered the Bulgarian People’s Army as a military pilot and rose to various designations in the air force. His name was suggested for the International Space Intercosmos Programme, conducted by Soviet Union. Along with a Soviet commander, he was launched for the Soyuz 33 mission to dock in orbit with the Salyut 6 space station in April 1979, thereby becoming Bulgaria’s first pilot cosmonaut to orbit in space. Despite the mission’s failure due to a technical problem in the main engine, he became very popular in Bulgaria. What’s more, during the 1 day, 23 hours and 1 minute journey spent in space, his spacecraft was able to make 31 full orbits around the Earth. He received various honors and awards given by Bulgaria as well as Soviet Union. He later resumed his military service and then joined politics, where he played a major role in creating the country’s first democratic constitution. Besides, he also started a cargo airline, Air Sofia
Childhood & Early Life
Georgi Ivanov was born as Georgi Kakalov on July 2, 1940, in Lovech, Bulgaria, to Ivan Ivanov Kakalov and Anastasiya Kakalova.
He completed his schooling in 1958 and later graduated from Military Air-force School, Dolna Mitropolia, in 1964, specializing as a flight engineer and class-I pilot.
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After completing the five-year program, Ivanov served in the Bulgarian Army as a military pilot and a few years later he became an instructor.
A few years later, he was appointed as squadron commander of fighter aircraft in the Bulgarian air force.
In 1978, he was selected as a member of the Soviet Union’s International Space Intercosmos Programme. Here, he was forced to change his surname to ‘Ivanav’ from ‘Kakalov’ due to its negative implication in the Russian language.
He completed a rigorous training, after which he was chosen for the fourth mission of the Intercosmos program to travel into space.
He started his journey to the Salyut 6 orbital station, along with Soviet commander Nikolai Rukavishnikov, in the Soyuz 33 manned space flight, which was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on April 10, 1979.
Just as the spacecraft was about to reach the space station, its main engine failed, forcing the crew to cut short their goal of docking Soyuz 33 with the Salyut 6 and manually igniting a reserve engine in order to return to Earth safely.
After completing 31 full orbits around the Earth, the engine was ignited and the spacecraft returned back landing 320 km south-east of Jezkazgan, Kazakhstan, remaining in space for 1 day, 23 hours and 1 minute.
Even though the mission failed, he was highly appreciated for his efforts and given a hero’s welcome in Bulgaria. Further, he was honored with several awards from both Bulgaria and Soviet Union.
Thereafter, he resumed his military service in Bulgaria. He studied further and obtained a doctorate degree in aerospace engineering.
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In 1991, he was appointed to the National Assembly of Bulgaria, a position through which he supported the establishment of the first democratic constitution in the Republic of Bulgaria.
In 1992, he launched Air Sofia, a Bulgarian cargo airline, along with Lilian Todorov. However, it was renamed United International Airlines and relocated to Serbia in 2007 after losing its license, before its operations were ceased in 2008.
He is the founder of ‘Future in Space Foundation’ and presently, serves as a member of the Association of the Space Explorers (ASE).
By boarding the Soyuz 33 mission, he became the first astronaut of Bulgarian nationality to leave Earth and travel into space.
Through his space flight in 1979, he helped Bulgaria enter the privileged club of ‘astronaut nations’, thereby making it the sixth nation in the world to send cosmonauts in space.
Awards & Achievements
In 1979, he was honored with the ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ and ‘Hero of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria’ titles after he returned from his space trip on Soyuz 33.
He received the ‘Order of Lenin’ and ‘Order of Georgi Dimitrov’ titles and was made an honorary citizen of Lovech, in 1979.
In 2004, he was awarded with the ‘Order of Stara Planina (1st class with Sword)’ from the Bulgarian government.
Personal Life & Legacy
He was first married to Natalya Rousanova, with whom he had a daughter, Ani, born in 1967. However, the couple divorced in 1982.
He remarried Lidia, with whom he fathered a son, Ivan, who was born in 1984.
He enjoys underwater fishing, skiing, and golfing during his leisure time