Arnaldo Tamayo Méndez, the first Latin American and the first person of African ancestry in space; he was proclaimed at the time as the first black cosmonaut was born.
Méndez, along with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko, was launched into space aboard Soyuz 38 from Baikonur Cosmodrome on September 18, 1980, at 19:11 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). After docking with Salyut 6, Méndez and Romanenko conducted experiments in an attempt to find what caused space adaptation syndrome (SAS), a condition experienced by around half of space travelers during adaptation to weightlessness; and perhaps even find a cure, and on the crystallization of sucrose in microgravity, for the benefit of Cuba’s sugar industry. The SAS experiment lasted 124 orbits of the Earth (lasting 7 days, 20 hours and 43 minutes), they landed 180 km (110 mi) from Dzhezkazgan.
Following his time in the Intercosmos program, Tamayo was made Director of the Military Patriotic Educational Society known as Sociedad de Educación Patriótico-Militar “SEPMI.” After his promotion to brigadier general, he became Director of International Affairs in the Cuban armed forces. Since 1980, he has been a Deputy in the Cuban National Assembly], representing his home region of Guantánamo Province. He has been honored by the Cuban Government for being the first Cuban, the first Caribbean, and the first Latin American to go into orbit. He was also awarded the titles of Hero of the Republic of Cuba, the Order of the Bay of Pigs and was a recipient of the Hero of the Soviet Union award.
FACT: Méndez’s space suit is preserved at the Museum of the Revolution in Havana, Cuba.