World Record For Time Spent In Space Smashed

By Brian Myers | Published


Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko recently broke a record that some might have speculated was unsurpassable: the nearly 900 days spent in space set by fellow Russian space adventurer Gennady Padalka, who cemented himself into history over the course of five separate missions aboard the International Space Station. Kononenko was announced to have broken Padalka’s space record on February 4 at 11:30 am, passing the impressive mark by staying in the heavens for 878 days, 11 hours, 29 minutes, and 48 seconds.

Russian Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko Sets Record For Most Time In Space

Padalka, whose first trip to space as personnel aboard the space station occurred in 1998, set record after record for total time outside the Earth’s atmosphere until his retirement in 2017. Like his predecessor, Kononenko (seen in the above image courtesy of Andrey Shelepin for NASA) needed five missions to space to rack up the same impressive amount of time.

But as his current mission aboard the space station has only just begun, the world will be watching as the cosmonaut smashes the record by the time his orbit around the Earth has finished.

Blowing The Previous Record Away

The current mission, in which Kononenko is hurtling more than 260 miles away from the Earth, isn’t set to end until September 2024. If all goes as planned, this means that Kononenko’s total time in space is set to exceed 1,110 days in orbit. The projected space record will put Kononenko’s space time at more than a year beyond Padalka.

Record For Most Consecutive Days In Orbit Held By Another

Though both Kononenko and Padalka have each had storied careers for the Russian Roscosmos, neither have the record for the most consecutive days spent in orbit. That distinction belongs to Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who set that space record when he stayed aboard the Russian space station Mir for 437 straight days in 1994 and 1995.

The record for most accumulative time spent in space for a United States astronaut is held by Peggy Whitson (675 days), while astronaut Frank Rubio holds the United States record for most consecutive time in space at 371 days.

Oleg Kononenko’s Impressive Career

Kononenko began his career as an engineer before becoming one of a select few chosen to be space-bound as cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station. At age 34, Kononenko first traveled outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, staying aboard the space station for 200 days in 2008. He may not have realized it then, but the new cosmonaut was well on his way to breaking a space record by the end of his first mission.

In the 16 years he’s been traveling to space, Kononenko recently remarked to media sources that in spite of great advances in technology, his preparation for cosmic journeys have not become any easier. He notes the rigorous physical exercises he must put his body through both before the launches and while in orbit, as well as the extensive mental and emotional preparation he must endure throughout the entirety of the process.

Not An Easy Feat


Setting a space record has meant a considerable amount of time away from family, a fact that Kononenko has lamented recently. He’s pointed out that every time he returns from a mission, he’s seen his children grow up in his absence.