The only person who united the earthy Romania with fabulous outer space
Interview with Dumitru Prunariu who has traveled more than 5 million km to feel the freedom… space freedom in seven days, twenty hours, 42 minutes and 52 seconds and a great experience ever.
Mr. Prunariu, you remain one of the Romanians who made history. How has your life changed since May 14, 1981?
The cosmic flight made a radical change in my life and in my activity, too. As the first Romanian astronaut and as public person who became known worldwide in a few days, the requests to publicly harness my cosmic experience became huge. In addition, my professional activities have taken a really international feature. This means, beside the positions in national institutions, a more pronounced vocational request as well as recognition, appreciation, the proposal to handle domestic and international positions. And, now, here I am where I am today.
You lived the communist period when you have asserted yourself in the career, then the one after 1989 revolution and here we are in 2014, close to 2015. What has changed since then and what you appreciate in the present?
Whatever the historical period was, if you were not directly involved in any political party -which often offers fast but usually undeserved advantages – you could complete your professional training and put worth the qualities as specialist in a certain field of activity or you could also have the opportunity to advance in different high-level positions. Before ‘90s, my public image was intentionally sidelined by authorities not to eclipse Ceausescu’s figure in front of the people which was already tired of his ubiquitous presence and communist propaganda. After ‘90s, as I was well-known in the country and abroad, I was proposed to lead and promote the civil aviation field and the diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation.
Unfortunately, quite rapidly, in both cases, the interests of the heads of ruling party at that time deviated and replaced many uncorrupted specialists with enslaved people in order to solve their personal or group’s economic interests at the expense of those nationals
But I persevered in the outer space activities and climbed on my own, supported in key moments by the Romanian Space Agency (RoSA) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in important international positions, and my name has gained an increasing weight in the field. What do I appreciate present compared to the period before 1990?! The much higher freedom to travel, to attend and to get involved in international activities, to decide, to express yourself in institutions where the specialist is appreciated on his true value.
What advices do you have for those who consider traveling in space just a utopia, a childhood dream?
You always have to dare to dream and to aim at getting much higher than where you can reach in a certain moment. Only a target which is permanently above to what you can get now is stimulating to make things more and more efficient. Curiosity and beautiful dreams should never leave anyone.
How Romanian have you felt in certain official moments and how much the person Dumitru Prunariu?
I started to feel much more the person Dumitru Prunariu after the cosmic flight, but I felt much more after 1990. The Romanian Dumitru Prunariu I always felt and I tried to prove it through what I did and what I still do as Romanian. This is a quality which can and should be appreciated.
What message do you have for the other Romanians on this special day?
Romania is a country which wasn’t so easily formed, but given its strategic position at the crossroads of various geopolitical and strategic interests, was permanently subjected to high stresses and influences both inside and especially outside. Romania was a stronger country, sometimes – fragile, but it managed to keep its unity and a part of national interests. Joining two major international structures, the European Union and NATO, has also contributed to keeping those mentioned above. The Romanian national unity and the positive things that derive from this are due to historical events of December 1, 1918, a date which was justly chosen as the National Day of Romania. It is an important date for me and for all those who want to live well in a strong and stable Romania.