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4 Feb, 2024 15:09

Russian cosmonaut sets new space record

Oleg Kononenko has now spent more time than anyone else in orbit
Russian cosmonaut sets new space record

Russian сosmonaut Oleg Kononenko has set a new record for spending the most time on the International Space Station (ISS), Russia space agency Roscosmos has said.

The previous record belonged to another Russian, Gennady Padalka, who stayed in orbit for 878 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes and 48 seconds during his five missions.

Padalka’s achievement was surpassed by Kononenko at 11:30:08 Moscow time (11:30:08 AM GMT) on Saturday, Roscosmos announced on social media.

It’s the fifth mission to the ISS for Kononenko, who first traveled to space back in 2008.

The current crew of the station is scheduled to return to Earth on September 23, which means that the 59-year-old will become the first human to pass the mark of spending 1,000 days in space.

Responding to a question by RT from orbit, Kononenko said he could consider the ISS his home after being there for 878 days. “Home is a place where your family and your friends are. Many of my friends are cosmonauts and astronauts,” he explained.

In a separate interview with Tass news agency, the cosmonaut insisted that he’s “flying to space to do the job that I love, not to set records.” He said he was more proud not of his personal achievement, but of the fact that the record for the most time spent in space remains in the hands of a Russian.

When asked how he has been affected by staying in orbit for so long, Kononenko replied: “Going to space, of course, doesn’t improve one’s health, but I always pursue an active lifestyle and regularly exercise both on Earth and in space.”

“And from a psychological point of view, during my work in orbit, I don’t feel any deprivation or isolation,” he stressed, adding that “the friendly atmosphere, mutual support and understanding between all crew members remain unchanged at the station” at all times.

Kononenko was also asked whether he is planning to go on a sixth mission to space. He responded that “time will tell… I’ll just strive to continue to do my job professionally and with pleasure.”

According to NASA’s figures, the US astronaut to have spent the most time at the ISS is Peggy Whitson, who worked in space for 655 days.