Science & Environment

Russian cosmonaut record-breaker Padalka returns to Earth

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Media captionGennady Padalka returns to Earth

Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka has returned to Earth with the record for having spent the most time in space.

The 57-year-old's latest mission lasted 168 days, bringing his total to 879 days in space over five trips.

This is two months longer than the previous record set in 2005 by Russian Sergei Krikalev over six missions.

Mr Padalka and two other members from the International Space Station (ISS) landed safely in Kazakhstan on their Soyuz spacecraft just before sunrise.

The capsule descended after re-entering the Earth's atmosphere under a parachute.

Gennady Padalka

Image copyright AFP
  • Graduated as a pilot and became a colonel in the Russian Air Force
  • First journey to space was in 1998, to Russia's Mir space station
  • Only person to have commanded the ISS four times
  • He beat the previous record for most time in space on 28 June 2015
  • Has participated in 10 spacewalks

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A ground crew rushed to welcome and extract the three astronauts from the charred spacecraft and medics checked their condition.

"I am fine," Mr Padalka told them as he sipped tea and ate an apple, the AFP news agency reports.

Mr Padalka's companions - Andreas Mogensen from Denmark and Kazakh Aidyn Aimbetov - are both novices in comparison, having only spent 10 days in orbit on what was their first mission.

Mr Aimbetov had travelled in place of British soprano Sarah Brightman, who had been due to made the trip as a space tourist but withdrew from training in May citing family reasons.

Six astronauts now remain on the ISS, including Nasa's Scott Kelly and Russia's Mikhail Kornienko, who began a 12-month tour of duty in March - the longest continuous stay anyone would have been aboard the 400km-high (250 mile) orbiting platform.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The capsule landed south-east of the town of Zhezkazgan
Image copyright EPA
Image caption It had left the ISS at 21:39 GMT and landed back on Earth at 00:51 GMT
Image copyright EPA
Image caption After landing Aidyn Aimbetov (L), Gennady Padalka (C) and Andreas Mogensen (R) were taken to meet Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev
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Media captionWhat's living in space like?

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