A cosmonaut onboard the International Space Station has beaten the record for the most time spent off the planet — and he still has months to go before he comes home to Earth.
Gennady Padalka, a Russian who is serving a record fourth command of the orbiting outpost, logged his 804th day in Earth orbit Monday (June 29), spread over five flights. He surpassed the previous record of 803 days, 9 hours, and 39 minutes accrued over six missions, set in October 2005 by fellow cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev.
"I hope this flight will take the figure to 878 days," Padalka said before his most recent launch in March. "But I am not going to stop at that — I hope to reach 1,000 days in orbit on my following flight." [Most Extreme Human Spaceflight Records]
Scheduled to return to Earth on Sept. 11, Padalka marked his 57th birthday onboard the space station on June 21.
"When I was only 3 years old, the first man flew in space," Padalka recounted to a NASA interviewer in 2009. "When I was only 7 years old, human beings began to work in the open space and when I was only 11 years old, I remember watching people walk on the moon."
"It was incredible decade for all [of] mankind and I think at that time each boy dreamed to become [a] cosmonaut or astronaut," Padalka said. "So did I."
When Padalka launched for his fourth visit to the station in March, he already had spent 710 days – almost two years — in space.
"Gennady's feeling right now like he always does when he is up in space, he's where he's supposed to be," said Mike Fincke, an astronaut and Padalka's one-time crewmate, in a NASA interview Monday (June 29). "It's an awesome feeling where you just wake up in the morning and say, 'I'm supposed to be here, this is what I am supposed to be doing with my life.'"