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Cosmonaut sets new record for longest time spent in space

By the time he's back on Earth, he'll have spent 2.5 years in space.
  • Oleg Kononenko beat the previous record by one day
  • So far, he’s spent 879 days in space over the course of five missions
  • And the best part is: his mission is not over yet

Published on Feb 6, 2024 at 3:26PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Feb 7, 2024 at 5:19PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

A Russian cosmonaut named Oleg Kononenko just set a new record for the longest time spent in space.

And he’s not done yet, because by the time his mission is over, his record will likely become unbeatable.

READ MORE: $400 billion rivalry between Musk and Bezos defined as 21st century Space Race

Oleg Kononenko has spent a grand total of 879 days in space, which means he’s just beaten the previous record set by fellow Russian astronaut Gennady Padalka by about half a day.

For reference, Padalka spent 878 days, 11 hours and 29 minutes in space.

Both Padalka and Kononenko achieved their respective record over the course of five missions.

However, the key factor here is that Kononenko’s current mission is still ongoing, and the 59-year-old astronaut is scheduled to remain on the International Space Station (ISS) until September 23.

On that date, as he sets foot back on Earth, he’ll have spent 1,110 days in space in total.

That’s the equivalent of around 2.5 years.

Pictured below, Oleg Kononenko (left, 879 days in space) and Gennady Padalka (right, 878 days in space)

In an interview with Russian news agency, TASS, reported by Reuters, Kononenko said he doesn’t care about records.

“I fly into space to do my favorite thing, not to set records,” Kononenko said.

“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.”

Several astronauts spent a significant amount of time in space, giving us a pretty clear idea of what happens when you spend so much time away from Earth’s gravity.

Pictured below, Frank Rubio (left, 371 days in space) and Mark Vande Hei (right, 355 days in space)

In a nutshell, gravity is the key to everything.

It is the reason why cosmonauts tend to lose bone density and muscle mass, and it also explains why and how their blood cells diminish.

Upon their return to Earth, cosmonauts who’ve spent months in space find it difficult to stand properly or walk.

Most of these issues are ‘reversible’, and the body simply re-adapts itself to Earth.

But it takes time.

This varies a lot because each individual is different, but scientists agree that, on average, once astronauts return to Earth, it generally takes one day for every day spent in space for the body to fully readjust.

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