RIP: Cosmonaut Valery Vladimirovich Polyakov

Image (Credit): Cosmonaut Valery Polyakov. (NASA)

Last week cosmonaut Valery Polyakov passed away at the age of 80 (1942 to 2022). He still holds the record for the longest single spaceflight in history when he was aboard the Mir space station for 437 days and 18 hours during one stay between 1994 and 1995. By the time he retired later in 1995, he had spent 678 days in space.

Russians have a history of long tours in space, including four cosmonauts from the last century who spent at least one year in a single tour:

  • Valery Polyakov – 437 days aboard Mir (1994-95)
  • Sergei Avdeyev – 379 days aboard Mir (1998-99)
  • Vladimir Titov – 365 days aboard Mir (1987-88)
  • Musa Manaro – 365 days aboard Mir (1987-88)

When U.S. astronaut Astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko from the International Space Station in 2016 after 340 days in space, the Russians were not so impressed according to a story in arsTECHNICA. The story notes cosmonaut Talgat Musabayev, serving as the head of the Kazakh space agency, stated, “Congratulations on your record. Of course it was already done 28 years ago.” 

Image (Credit): The Soviet Mir space station. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)