Russian cosmonaut sets record for most time in space
Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko yesterday set a world record for total time spent in space, surpassing his compatriot Gennady Padalka who logged more than 878 days in orbit, Russia's space corporation said.
At 0830 GMT Kononenko broke the record, Roscosmos said. Kononenko is expected to reach a total of 1,000 days in space on June 5 and by late September he will have clocked 1,110 days.
"I fly into space to do my favourite thing, not to set records," Kononenko told TASS in an interview from the International Space Station (ISS) where he is orbiting about 263 miles (423 km) from the earth.
"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."
The 59-year-old took the top spot from Padalka, who accumulated a total of 878 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes and 48 seconds, Roscosmos said.
The Soviet Union spooked the West in the early years of the space race by being first to launch a satellite to orbit the Earth - Sputnik 1, in 1957 - and then Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel into space in 1961.
But after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's space programme grappled with massive funding shortages and corruption.
Officials under President Vladimir Putin have repeatedly vowed to turn around the decline of Russia's space programmes, though serious problems still remain, according to officials and space analysts.