Russian cosmonaut sets record for most time in space

Variety and Tech
2024-02-04 | 07:31
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Russian cosmonaut sets record for most time in space
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Russian cosmonaut sets record for most time in space

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko set a world record for total time spent in space on Sunday, surpassing his compatriot Gennady Padalka, who logged more than 878 days in orbit, Russia's space corporation said.

At 0830 GMT, Kononenko broke the record, Roscosmos said. Kononenko is expected to reach 1,000 days in space on June 5; by late September, he will have clocked 1,110 days.

"I fly into space to do my favorite thing, not to set records," Kononenko told TASS in an interview from the International Space Station (ISS), where he is orbiting about 263 miles (423 km) from the Earth.

"I am proud of all my achievements, but I am more proud that the record for the total duration of human stay in space is still held by a Russian cosmonaut."

The 59-year-old took the top spot from Padalka, who accumulated 878 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes, and 48 seconds, Roscosmos said.

The Soviet Union spooked the West in the early years of the space race by being the first to launch a satellite to orbit the Earth - Sputnik 1, in 1957 - and then Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel into space in 1961.

But after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's space program grappled with massive funding shortages and corruption.

Officials under President Vladimir Putin have repeatedly vowed to turn around Russia's space programs' decline, though serious problems remain, according to officials and space analysts.

Kononenko said that he worked out regularly to counter the physical effects of "insidious" weightlessness but that it was on returning to Earth that he realized how much life he had missed out on.

"I do not feel deprived or isolated," he said.

"It is only upon returning home that the realization comes that for hundreds of days in my absence, the children have been growing up without a papa. No one will return this time to me."

He said cosmonauts could now use video calls and messaging to keep in touch with relatives. However, technological advances made getting ready for each new space flight more difficult.

"The profession of a cosmonaut is becoming more complicated. The systems and experiments are becoming more complicated. I repeat, the preparation has not become easier," he said.

Kononenko dreamed of going to space as a child and enrolled in an engineering institute before undergoing cosmonaut training. His first space flight was in 2008.

His current trip to the ISS launched last year on a Soyuz MS-24.

The ISS is one of the few international projects on which the United States and Russia cooperate closely. In December, Roscosmos said a cross-flight program with NASA to the ISS had been extended until 2025.

Relations in other areas between the two countries have broken down since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly two years ago, to which Washington responded by sending arms to Kyiv and imposing successive rounds of sanctions on Moscow.

Reuters

Variety and Tech

Russia

Cosmonaut

Oleg Kononenko

Space

Roscosmos

Earth

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