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Hungary plans to send its astronaut to ISS in two years – top diplomat

According to the Foreign Minister, the Hungarian astronaut will take part in a 30-day research mission to the ISS in cooperation with the American company Axiom Space

BUDAPEST, November 23. /TASS/. Hungary expects to send its astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2024 or early 2025, the country’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday, citing agreements with US company Axiom Space, which runs joint space tourism and space technology projects with NASA.

The Hungarian top diplomat said that eight candidates had been selected out of 244 Hungarian applicants. Soon, four prospective astronauts will be picked up.

"The winner will be chosen a few weeks before the flight, due in late 2024 or early 2025," Szijjarto told a ministerial session of the European Space Agency (ESA) Council in Paris.

"A Hungarian astronaut will participate in a 30-day research mission to the ISS in late 2024 or early 2025, in cooperation with US company Axiom Space," the country’s MTI news service quoted him as saying.

The minister went on to say that Hungary had launched the largest space program in the country's history, worth around 100 million euro. One of the program’s goals is to send a Hungarian astronaut to space. In accordance with the project, Hungarian enterprises are to get a package of contracts from European aerospace companies, but prior to that they are to receive grants for technological upgrades of their production base.

"It is an important step forward for the Hungarian industry," Szijjarto said.

Hungary’s first cosmonaut, Bertalan Farkas, made a seven-day space flight to the Soviet Union’s Salyut-6 space station, along with Soviet cosmonaut Valery Kubasov, back in May-June 1980. The mission, carried out as part of the Intercosmos project onboard Soviet-made Soyuz spaceships, made Hungary the seventh nation ever represented in space.

In 2020, the Hungarian government discussed sending its astronaut into space with Russia’s state-run space corporation Roscosmos, but the talks produced no results. According to TASS sources, the sides failed to come to terms on a number of issues, including its price.