Today in 1959, the first cosmonaut of Greek origin, with his roots from Pontus, Fyodor Nikolayevich Yurchikhin or in Greek known as Theodoros Yurchikhin Nikolaou, was born in Batumi in the former Soviet Union.
Originally from Pontus, Yurchikhins’ ancestors settled in Georgia in 1900.
He studied mechanical engineering and worked for the Russian space company ENERGY until 1997.
In 2000 he began his training as a cosmonaut, thus his childhood dream.
On his first flight on NASA’s Atlantis spacecraft in October 2002, which lasted ten days, he carried the Greek flag with him.
He carried out his second space mission with a Russian spacecraft headed by a team of 15 members.
On his third space trip, he was the commander of the Russian Soyuz space station, which remained connected to the International Space Station for 161 days.
In honor of Greece, he proposed and named the mission “Olympus”.
The experienced Yurchikhin, who has been honored with the highest distinction of the Hero of the Russian Federation and with the Order of the Phoenix of the Hellenic Republic, made his fifth space voyage with the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft and the International Space Station) in 2017.
He had with him two flags – of Greece and PAOK – as well as a Pontian lyre.
He visited Thessaloniki for the first time when a book-tribute was written and presented to him by “Erodios” publications, while since then he visits quite often since his (Pontian) mother lives in Sindos of Thessaloniki.