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Russian Cosmonaut Sets Record for Time in Space

VOA Learning English • voa
Feb. 5, 2024 3 minSource

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos says cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko has broken the world record for total time spent in space.

Kononenko passed the record Sunday after spending more than 878 days and 12 hours in orbit aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The previous record was set in 2015 by another cosmonaut, Gennady Padalka, who spent 878 days and 11 and a half hours in space.

The 59-year-old Kononenko has so far made five trips to the ISS. The first one came in 2008.

Kononenko told Russia’s state-supported news agency, TASS, that each trip he took to the ISS required careful preparation. This is because the orbiting space lab is always getting upgrades .

Kononenko said his repeated space trips represent the realization of a childhood dream to become a cosmonaut. “I fly into space to do what I love, not to set records,” he told TASS.

He added that his continued interest in living and working in orbit “ motivates ” him to keep flying.

Kononenko’s current trip to the ISS began on Sept. 15, 2023. He arrived along with American astronaut Loral O’Hara and cosmonaut Nikolai Chub.

Kononenko’s service on the ISS is continuing. He is expected to reach a total of 1,000 days in space on June 5. His current flight is expected to end in late September. By then, he will have spent at least 1,110 days in space.

Kononenko said he worked out often aboard the ISS to help him deal with the physical effects of weightlessness.

He added that he realizes the social effects of his long stays on the ISS when he returns back to Earth.

"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,” Kononenko said. “No one will return this time to me."

Kononenko noted that cosmonauts are now able to use video calls and messaging to stay in better touch with their family.

He said one of the most difficult things about being a cosmonaut is getting ready for each new space flight. "The profession of a cosmonaut is becoming more complicated ,” Kononenko said. “The systems and experiments are becoming more complicated.”

The ISS is one of only a few areas where the United States and Russia still closely cooperate after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Roscosmos announced in December that its program with the American space agency NASA to transport astronauts to the ISS had been extended until 2025.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

The Associated Press and Reuters reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English.

Words in This Story

upgrade – v. to improve the quality or usefulness of something

realization – n. the process of noticing or understanding something that you did not notice or understand before

motivate – v. to make someone want to do something

absence – n. not being in a particular place

complicated – adj. complex or difficult to understand

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