Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko set a world record for the longest time spent in space on Sunday, January 4, The Guardian reports. He surpassed the record set by his compatriot Ghenadi Padalka, according to the Roscosmos agency.
Oleg Kononenko broke the record for the longest time spent in space. Photo: EPA EFE
Astronaut Kononenko spent almost two and a half years in space, compared to Padalka who managed to log 878 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes and 48 seconds during five space flights before retiring in 2017.
Oleg Kononenko, 59, broke the record while in orbit 423 kilometers from Earth during his fifth space flight.
“I fly into space to do my favorite thing, not to set records”he told the Russian news agency Tass in an interview from the International Space Station (ISS).
“SI am proud of all my achievements, but I am most proud of the fact that the record for the time spent by a man in space is still held by a Russian cosmonaut”said Kononenko, who is the commander of Roscosmos.
“The children grew up without a father”
His current spaceflight is scheduled to end at the end of September, at which point he will have spent 1,110 days in space.
According to the European Space Agency, he was an engineer early in his career, and at the age of 34 he began training to become a cosmonaut after joining the select group for the ISS program. Its first space flight took place shortly thereafter, in April 2008, and lasted 200 days.
Kononenko told Tass that video calls and texting allowed him to keep in touch with loved ones, but that upon returning to Earth he realized he missed a lot.
“Only when I return home do I realize that, for hundreds of days, in my absence, the children grew up without a father.” he said. “No one is going to give me this time back.”
His five space flights spanned 16 years, during which technological advances made preparing for each flight more difficult, he said. “The cosmonaut profession is becoming more and more complicated. Systems and experiments become more complicated. I repeat, preparation has not become easier”.
The ISS is one of the few international projects where Washington and Moscow continue to cooperate closely since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.