Baku Blacklists Renowned Astronauts

Charles Duke walks on the moon in 1972

PRAGUE (Radio Liberty)–Looks like Charles Duke can walk on the moon, but he can’t set foot in Azerbaijan.

Baku’s Foreign Ministry announced that the U.S. astronaut — a member of the Apollo 16 mission in 1972 — has been barred from entering the country.

Seems he and Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier — who is also now persona non grata in Baku — attended an international space conference on September 16 in Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, the predominately ethnic-Armenian separatist enclave in Azerbaijan.

The conference was dedicated to Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the moon, who died August 25.

Azerbaijani officials said anyone entering the breakaway region without preliminary consultations with Baku automatically becomes persona non grata in Azerbaijan.

In addition to being the 10th man of 12 to walk on the moon, Duke also holds the distinction of being the youngest person to do so. He was 36 years old when he made his moon walk as part of NASA’s fifth manned lunar-landing mission.

(Interestingly, he was also the capcom, or capsule communicator, at Mission Control in Houston for Apollo 11 when Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin first landed on the moon in July 1969. After Armstrong and Aldrin landed safely, and Armstrong announced the historic moment with his famous, “Houston, Tranquility Base here, the ‘Eagle’ has landed,” Duke responded with his almost-equally-famous, “Roger, Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You’ve got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot.”)

As for Nicollier, he flew on four missions on the U.S. space shuttle program from 1992 to 1999 and became the first astronaut from the European Space Agency to participate in a spacewalk aboard the shuttle.

Why hold a space conference in Nagorno-Karabakh, you might ask? Nagorno-Karabakh’s acting education and science minister, Vladik Khachatryan, answered that question in a message addressed to the conference:

“The fact that the Armenian Highland is one of the oldest places on Earth, studying the universe is clearly indicated by the ancient observatories that exist here. Space exploration developed significantly during the 20th century, and can be qualified as the golden era of astronomy in Armenia. We are also very proud of the fact that Artsakh-born scientists have had significant contributions in exploring space.”

It may be stretching things a bit, but Nagorno-Karabakh may have been a fitting place for a space conference after all.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in conflict for decades over the disputed enclave, with a fragile cease-fire in place since 1994. It’s known as one of the post-Soviet “frozen conflicts” still plaguing the region. And the moon holds the distinction of being the coldest place in our solar system.


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  1. Kevork said:

    The sheer audacity these sniveling coward clowns named “Azeris” have is beyond words. Talk about DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR!!!!! Unbelievable. More serious than this, every nation on Earth should be ashamed of itself for even dealing with and taking seriously this ridiculous, fake, impostor nation named “Azerbaijan”.

    There is a way to purge that “black list” – get rid of this country and its mafioso dynastic dictatorship.

  2. George said:

    NO body can stop the intimidations of the terrorist country of Azerbaijana unless it is invaded and splited between Armenia and Iran

  3. levon sanosyan said:

    Why does not Turkey also black list the entire world for recognizing the Turkish Crime of The Armenian Genocide?

  4. Stepan said:

    Another ridiculous move by the dictatorship called Azerbaijan. Once again they have provided the world with valuable insight into their values. The real question is whether the world will take the information as further evidence of why Artsakh was liberated and why it will remain free.

  5. Ray said:

    I think the Azerbaijan Goverment is living in the “twilight zone” When it comes to Nagorno-Karabaugh!
    After what happened with the killer Ramil Safarov and his pardon why would any Armenian or any Christian
    want to live under Azerbaijan ? No Armenian in there right mind would put there family in risk.
    Furthermore Azerbaijan needs to understand the world is not afraid of them, for some strange reason they think they can threaten and bribe the world from Olympics to song contest to even nations I mean really who does that? Azerbaijan is living in the 11th century still!

  6. Tigran said:

    Good riddance. As if these fine gentleman would want to set foot in that God awful country anyway.

  7. Armenag said:

    Great article.

    The moon can be the coldest physical place in the solar system,
    but the hearts of men in denial of the obvious, are far colder.

    May they be enlightened, and their hearts softened.

  8. Greg said:

    Well I guess I am too persona nongrata in Azerbaijan. I always visit Artsakh when I go to Armenia.

  9. Alex Postallian said:

    Who cares what azerbaturk thinks;the little bastard brother of jerky turkey.

  10. Artin said:

    Who cares??? I would consider it a BLESSING to not be able to go azerbaijan! Armenia is chrisitan, european nation. It is safe, relatively clean and the culture is much more advanced as well as open minded. Who WANTS to go to azerbaijan?!?! LOL