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Record-breaking cosmonaut returns to Earth

Record-breaking cosmonaut returns to Earth
Gennady Padalka in 2012 (Image: NASA HQ PHOTO under a CC licence)

14 September 2015

Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka has returned to Earth having set a new record for total time spent in space.

Mr Padalka returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Saturday, having spent 879 days in space over five trips. He landed in Kazakhstan early on Saturday morning, together with Andreas Mogensen from Denmark and Aidyn Aimbetov from Kazakhstan, who were both returning from their first mission.

Mr Aimbetov travelled to space in place of British soprano Sarah Brightman, who had been due to travel on the mission as a space tourist but stopped training in May, citing family reasons.

Having landed 146 kilometres southeast of the town of Jezkazgan in central Kazakhstan, the astronauts were taken by helicopter to the capital Astana to be met by President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

“You’ve spent so much time in space, but you look great,” Mr Nazarbayev said to Mr Padalka. “I congratulate you on your cosmonaut and all of us on the successful completion of our work,” said Mr Padalka.

The previous record was held by Russian astronaut Sergei Krikalev, who spent 803 days in orbit over a total of six trips. Gennady Padalka broke Mr Krikalev’s record on 2 July this year.