The Calendar of History Marks the 21st Century

My Family Was Always Proud of its Armenian Heritage: James Bagian – The Only Armenian in the World, who Has Traveled into Space

“Armedia” IAA presents an exclusive interview with James Bagian, the only Armenian in the world, who has traveled into Space. 

- Mr Bagian, what made you want to become an astronaut?

I had always been interested in aviation from the time I was a little boy.  My father, Philip Bagian, had been a highly decorated fighter pilot in World War 2 and I suppose I developed my interest from the stories he would tell my brother and me about the enjoyment, challenge, and satisfaction he experienced from flying. Having developed an avid interest in aviation at such a young age it was only natural to become interested in spaceflight and becoming an astronaut.

-You have logged over 337 hours in space. What is the outer space like? What feelings did You experience?

-Seeing the Earth from space with your own eyes gives a much greater appreciation for the planet than pictures or videos are capable of imparting. The beauty and seeing the Earth, its land masses, and oceans with no political boundaries definitely impresses one that all the peoples of the Earth and their activities ultimately can impact everyone regardless of where they live. 

I was also impressed with the tremendous technical achievement that launching a spacecraft is and how fortunate I was to have been allowed to make my flights as well as the debt of thanks I felt to all of the people whose good work made the experience possible for me to have.

-What is the most memorable moment for you in space?

-I most vividly remember the first time I was in orbit and looked out of the window at the horizon to see the thin blue line that was the atmosphere that envelopes the Earth. It was a beautiful electric blue color and it was particularly striking to me because of how small and fragile it appeared especially as I contemplated how all the people on Earth depend on it for our survival every day.

-Please, tell us about your family and their Armenian traditions.

-Grandparents on my father’s side emigrated to the United States just after 1900. My father and his brothers and sister were the first ones in their family born in the United States.  They were always proud of their Armenian heritage and I fondly remember spending times together with my family enjoying Armenian delicacies and hearing from my father’s parents stories about “the old country”. 

-As we know, you have not been to Armenia yet. Would you like to ever visit Armenia? 

-You are correct, I have never been to Armenia but I would be interested to do so.