Once A National Hero, Syria's Lone Cosmonaut Is Now A Refugee In Turkey
Mohammed Faris traveled to the Mir Space Station nearly three decades ago, becoming so famous that Syria's president was jealous of him. Now he's one of the many Syrians who has fled to Turkey.

@npr recently published a great piece on Mohammed Faris, Syria’s first and only space traveler. 

Through the Soviet Union’s Interkosmos program, it was common for citizens of Soviet-friendly countries to fly into space, originally to one of the Salyut space stations and later, Mir. Although Syria was not politically aligned with the USSR, they did support some of their policies, allowing for Syria to participate in Interkosmos.

Faris was selected to train as a Cosmonaut in September, 1985, while a navigation specialist in the Syrian Air Force.

On July 22, 1987, after 10 months of training, Faris launched to the Mir space station on Soyuz TM-3. He spent just under 8 days in space, working with EO-2, the second long-duration crew of the then-new Mir space station.

His flight was the 12th mission of the Interkosmos program, which would launch a total of 15 individuals into space over 10 years.

In the Soyuz TM-3 crew portrait below, Research Cosmonaut Mohammed Faris is seen on left, with Commander Alexander Viktorenko in center and Flight Engineer Aleksandr Aleksandrov on right.

وہ تجھ کو بھولے ہیں تو تجھ پہ بھی لازم ہے میر
خاک ڈال، آگ لگا، نام نہ لے، یاد نہ کر

She has forgotten you, Mir,
Then its imperative for you to:
Let it go,
Burn it down,
Don’t say her name,
Don’t recall anything.

Woh Tujhko Bhoole Hain, Toh Tujh Pe Bhi Laazim Hai ‘Mir’
Khaak Daal, Aag Laga, Naam Na Le, Yaad Na Kar
—  Mir Taqqi Mir