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"Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko has broken the world record for the longest amount of time spent in space."
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“Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko has broken the world record for the longest amount of time spent in space.”

On Sunday, a Russian astronaut achieved a new global milestone by spending over 878 days in space, setting a record for the longest time spent in space.

At 0830 GMT, Oleg Kononenko broke the previous record held by fellow Russian Gennady Padalka, according to Russia’s space agency Roscosmos. Padalka retired in 2017 after completing five space missions and accumulating a total of 878 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes, and 48 seconds in space.

At the age of 59, Kononenko set a new record during his fifth trip to space by orbiting 263 miles above Earth. In an interview from the ISS, he stated that he goes to space for his passion, not to break records.

“I take great pride in all of my accomplishments, but I am especially proud that the record for the longest duration of a human’s stay in space is still held by a Russian cosmonaut,” stated Kononenko, who serves as the commander of Roscosmos.

He is expected to complete his current space mission by late September, accumulating 1,110 days in space by then.

According to the European Space Agency, he began his career in space as an engineer and later joined the group chosen for the ISS program at age 34. He then trained to become a cosmonaut and went on his first space mission in April 2008, which lasted 200 days.

Oleg Kononenko conducts a spacewalk outside the ISS in December 2018View image in fullscreen

According to Kononenko’s statement to Tass, video calls and messaging helped him stay connected, but it wasn’t until he returned to Earth that he realized how many experiences he had missed.

“I only come to realize upon returning home that my absence has caused my children to grow up without a father for hundreds of days,” he expressed. “No one can make up for this lost time.”

He mentioned exercising regularly to combat the negative impact of weightlessness, which he described as “insidious.” He also stated that he does not feel deprived or isolated.

He stated that his five journeys into space have covered a period of 16 years, during which advancements in technology have made the process of preparing for each flight more challenging. He also commented on the increasing complexity of being a cosmonaut, with more complicated systems and experiments. He emphasized that despite these advancements, the preparation for space travel has not become any easier.

The International Space Station remains as one of the limited collaborations between Washington and Moscow, even after Russia’s takeover of Ukraine. In December, Roscosmos announced the extension of their joint program with NASA until 2025.

In recent years, doubts have arisen about the dependability of Russia’s once highly esteemed space program. In October, the Russian part of the ISS experienced its third coolant leak in less than a year, indicating ongoing challenges faced by the space sector due to inadequate funding, past mishaps, and corruption controversies.

This report was contributed by Reuters.

Source: theguardian.com