New spaceflight record – more than 880 days in space

On 4th February 2024, another milestone is space exploration was achieved. That very day, cosmonaut Oleg Dmitriyevich Kononenko (Олег Дмитриевич Кононенко), onboard of the International Space Station (ISS) broke the cumulative most-in-space record of 878.480 days.

Exactly at 11 hours, 30 minutes and 8 seconds of Moscow time (07:30:08 UTC), Kononenko broke the existing record of most total time spent in space, set by Gennady Ivanovich Padalka (Гeннадий Иванович Падалка) in 2015.

Currently, Kononenko continues his space mission, each day pushing the abovementioned record a bit further. According to official information disclosed by the space agency Roscosmos (Роскосмос), the milestone of 1,000 cumulative hours in space will be achieved on 5th June 2024, at 00:00:10 of Moscow time (21:00:10 GMT). Kononenko´s return from the ISS is planned for September of this year and at that time, the cosmonaut should clock more than 1,100 days spent in space.

Oleg Kononenko was born on 21st June 1964 in Chardzhou (now Türkmenabat in Turkmenistan). In 1988, he graduated from the N. E. Zhukovskiy Kharkiv Aviation Institute and then started to work for the TsSKB-Progress company (currently known as Progress Space Centre) in Kuybishev. In March of 1996, Kononenko was selected as cosmonaut candidate.

His first space mission took place between March and October of 2008, within the Expedition 17 to the ISS. Over the next years, Kononenko went to space three more times – from December 2011 to June 2012, then from June to December 2015 and from December 2018 to June 2019.

Oleg Kononenko, October 2022 (photo: NASA, Andrey Shelepin, jsc2023e052791)

On 15th September 2023, Kononenko began his fifth space mission. He was launched on board of Soyuz MS-24 (Союз МС-24) spacecraft, together with cosmonaut Nikolai Chub and American engineer and NASA astronaut, Loral O´Hara. The MS-24 crew joined the ISS within the Expedition 70.

Apart from the abovementioned total spaceflight duration time, Oleg Kononenko performed six extravehicular activities (EVA), commonly called ´spacewalks´, and spent a total of 39 hours and 54 minutes in the outer space.

Kononenko´s current record, as well as expected milestone of more than 1,000 days in space he is on right track to reach, are another significant achievement in human space exploration history.

Currently, more than fifty cosmonauts and astronauts can boast of having spent more than one year in space, cumulatively. However, only four of them exceeded 800 days of total time.

An American astronaut, Peggy Whitson, is the highest-ranked woman on that list, with 675.158 space days clocked. She is also the woman with most hours spent outside the spacecraft, performing so far ten spacewalks with a total time of 60 hours and 21 minutes.

Until now, the longest human spaceflight is the mission of Valeri Vladimirovich Polyakov (Валерий Владимирович Поляков). He was launched on 8th January 1994, spent more than a year onboard Mir space station and returned to Earth on 22nd March 1995, after 437.7 days spent in space.

Expedition 70: NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara (left), and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko (centre) and Nikolai Chub, depart building 254 for their Soyuz launch to the ISS, 15 September 2023, Baikonur, Kazakhstan (photo: NASA, Victor Zelentsov, NHQ202309150048, cropped)

Cover photo: Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft (foreground) that carried NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub to the International Space Station is pictured docked to the Rassvet module of the ISS, 18 September 2023 (photo: NASA, iss069e090251, cropped)
Information from NASA and Roscosmos press releases were used. All photos © National Aeronautics and Space Administration.