Hungarian Astronaut Béla Magyari Has Died at Age 68
Hungarian astronaut and aeronautical engineer Béla Magyari, who was the backup of Bertalan Farkas, the first Hungarian astronaut in space, passed away at age of 68.
He was born in Kiskunfélegyháza in 1949. He graduated from the Hungarian Airforce Academy “György Kilián” in 1969, and in 1972 he became a pilot-officer of the Hungarian Air Force. In 1977, he was chosen to be an astronaut-candidate.
As part of the Soviet Union’s Interkosmos program, which allowed Warsaw Pact nations to send astronauts into space, he was the backup of Bertalan Farkas on Soyuz 36, but never flew himself. About this, he once said to Hungarian news outlet HVG, that he and Farkas always knew that the Soviets preferred the latter and would choose him fly; but instead of becoming rivals and, for example, denouncing each other like Polish and Czech pilots did during the two-year-long training, they decided to act like professionals and help each other.
Image: Magyari family’s archives
After the fall of communism, Magyari worked as an aeronautical and development engineer for the Hungarian Army. In addition, he worked for military intelligence, serving, for example, in Sarajevo. Before his retirement, he was also the President of the Hungarian Astronautical Society, and worked for the Hungarian Space Office.
According to reports, he passed away following a long illness.