Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka has returned to Earth holding a new record of having spent the most time outside our orbit. What have you done today?
Joining him in his safe landing were two other astronauts from the International Space Station, Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov. Over five different trips, Padalka has totaled 879 days in space, and he has returned on Saturday right on schedule at 0051 GMT, touching ground on the Kazakh steppe.
The announcement of their safe landing was made by a spokesman for Roscosmos, NASA’s Russian counterpart. Padalka was the leader of the 44th expedition that reached the ISS, and he broke the previous record back in June 28. Sergei Krikalev, another Russian astronaut has been holding for the past 10 years at 803 days, nine hours and 41 minutes.
The mission he has now returned from started on 27 March in the company of Russian Mikhail Kornienko and American Scott Kelly, blasting off from the Baikonur cosmodrome. By comparison, Mogensen – the first astronaut from Denmark to reach space – and Aimbetov, have had a shorter stay at the ISS, docking on 4 September.
Soon after his historic re-entry, Padalka was sitting down and sipping tea surrounded by Russian and Kazakh space officials, including Talgat Musabayev, director of the Kazakh space agency Kazcosmos, a veteran with three space flights on his record.
This was Padalka’s fourth journey to ISS; on his first – and longest – space trip back in 1998, he visited Russia’s Mir space station. His second visit to ISS in 2009, however, has matched the number of days spent in space at once, 199. Padalka was assigned with commanding the ISS four times, the only person in the world to receive this honor.
After a perfect re-entering in the earth’s atmosphere, the NASA television announced that the three men performed a “bullseye landing” approximately 90 miles southeast of Dzhezkazgan, a Kazakh settlement. Before they fly out of the country, the trio is scheduled to meet the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev at the capital’s airport.
Such achievements are well-received across the globe, as space travel continues to be one of the few domains where international cooperation between Russia and the West still goes on after the crisis that is currently happening in Ukraine.
But it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns for the joint space program. When the unmanned Progress freighter had a failure back in April, Russia halted all space travel for almost 3 months. After losing contact with Earth control, the ship caught fire in the atmosphere, forcefully adding an extra month for the astronauts located on the ISS.
Image Source: The Higher Learning