Bella, Ivan

Ivan Bella is a Slovak Air Force officer who became the first Slovak citizen to fly in space. He was born on May 25, 1964 in Brezno, Czechoslovakia. He graduated from Banská Bystrica, a military high school, in 1983. He earned his pilot license, and he then went to a Military Aviation University SNP, where he graduated in 1987. In 1993 he was stationed to serve on the 33rd air base flying Mig-21 and Su-22 fighters. Five years later he headed to Russia for space mission training. In August of 1998 he was chosen to fly Soyuz TM-29 in the 27th expedition to space station Mir as a Research Cosmonaut. He launched from Baikonur on February 28, 1999 and landed aboard Soyuz TM-28 on the Mir space station. He then participated in a nine-day joint Russian-French-Slovak mission. Shortly after his return, Bella announced his retirement. He is married and has two children.