The first Asian cosmonaut in space, General Pham Tuan, shared his experience with language students at the Russian Science and Culture Centre in Hanoi on April 14.

The event was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Russian astronaut Yury Gagarin's flight into space, man's first, in 1961. It is also to celebrate April 12, the inaugural International Day of Space Flight, as designated by the United Nations.

Tuan said he was lucky enough to be selected, along with Russian cosmonaut Viktor Vassilyevich Gorbatko, to ride on the Soyuz 37 space shuttle in 1980. He graduated from the Gagarin Military Academy in Russia in 1979.

"That trip had a very important political meaning at that time. Vietnam had just unified North and South and the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had helped us a lot in gaining our reunification," Tuan said.

His trip into space was a milestone for the development of Vietnamese space science and technology, he said.

Speaking at the event, organised by the Russian Embassy in Vietnam , Minister Bezdetko Gennady said Russia was the leading country in the field of space science and technology as well as the rocket manufacturing industry.

Tuan's journey into space with Russian colleagues was evidence of the great Vietnam-Russia relationship and the Russians hoped they would collaborate more in the field, he said. /.