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Russian cosmonaut breaks record for most time in space

By
Amy R. Connolly
Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, far left, and two other ISS crewmates -- Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency -- touched down in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft near the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan on Friday night. Photo courtesy European Space Agency
Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, far left, and two other ISS crewmates -- Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency -- touched down in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft near the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan on Friday night. Photo courtesy European Space Agency

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka returned to Earth from the International Space Station late Friday as the world's most experienced space explorer, spending a record 879 days in orbit.

Padalka, 57, of the Russian Federal Space Agency, and two other ISS crew mates -- Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency -- touched down in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft near the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan, some three hours after leaving the ISS.

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The landing marks Padalka's fifth mission, with a total of 879 days in space. The previous record was held by six-time flier Sergei Krikalev, who had totaled 803 days in space.

Padalka arrived on the $100 billion orbiting laboratory on March 27, along with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko of Roscosmos. Padalka spent 168 days in space in this trip, traveling more than 71 million miles.

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Mogensen, Denmark's first astronaut, and Aimbetov arrived on the ISS on Sept. 4 for a short trip. Six astronauts remain on the ISS, including NASA's Scott Kelly. Kelly, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, will remain on board for one full year, about twice as long as the typical stay.

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