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Valeri Polyakov : biography

April 27, 1942 -

Valeri Vladimirovich Polyakov ( born Valeri Ivanovich Korshunov on April 27, 1942) is a Russian former cosmonaut. He is the holder of the record for the longest single spaceflight in human history, staying aboard the Mir space station for more than 14 months (437 days 18 hours) during one trip. His combined space experience is more than 22 months.

Selected as a cosmonaut in 1972, Polyakov made his first flight into space aboard Soyuz TM-6 in 1988. He returned to Earth 240 days later aboard TM-7. Polyakov completed his second flight into space in 1994–1995, spending 437 days in space between launching on Soyuz TM-18 and landing on TM-20, setting the record for the longest time continuously spent in space by an individual in human history.

Personal life

Polyakov retired from his position as a cosmonaut in June 1995, with a total of just over 678 days in space. He participated in experiment SFINCSS-99 (Simulation of Flight of International Crew on Space Station) in 1999. Polyakov is currently the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Public Health in Moscow, where he oversees the medical aspects of long-duration space missions. He is a member of the Russian Chief Medical Commission, participating in the qualification and selection of cosmonauts. He also holds membership in the International Space Researcher's Association and the International Academy of Astronautics. Polyakov is married and has one child.

Since returning from space, Polyakov remained active in the discipline of international spaceflight, becoming a "cosmonaut-investigator" for the United States, Austria, Germany, and France during their respective space science missions to the Mir space station.

Honours and awards

  • Hero of the Russian Federation
  • Hero of the Soviet Union
  • Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR
  • Order of Lenin
  • Medal "For Merit in Space Exploration"
  • Order of Parasat (Kazakhstan)
  • Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)
  • Hero of the Republic of Afghanistan
  • Order "The Sun of Liberty" (Afghanistan)

Legacy

Polyakov has won several awards for his spaceflight and academic achievements, including the Hero of the Soviet Union/Russian Federation, Order of Lenin, Order of the Legion of Honour, and the Order of Parasat. He is a member of organizations related to astronautics, including the Russian Chief Medical Commission on cosmonauts' certification.

Polyakov holds the title of "Pilot-Cosmonaut of the USSR" and has published several works pertaining to life sciences, medical aspects of space missions, and the results of research conducted on long-duration spaceflights.

Polyakov's record for longest cumulative time in space of 678 days over two missions stood until surpassed in 1999 by cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev with a total of 747 days in space during three different missions.

Cosmonaut career

Polyakov was selected as a cosmonaut in Medical Group 3 on March 22, 1972. His first flight into space occurred on Soyuz TM-6 in 1988. After staying aboard the Mir space station and conducting research for 240 days, Polyakov returned to Earth aboard Soyuz TM-7.

Polyakov's second spaceflight, the longest human spaceflight in history, began on January 8, 1994 with the launch of the Soyuz TM-18 mission. He spent approximately 437 days aboard Mir conducting experiments and performing scientific research. During this flight, he completed just over 7,000 orbits of the Earth. On January 9, 1995, after 366 days in space, Polyakov formally broke the spaceflight duration record previously set by Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov six years earlier. He returned to Earth aboard Soyuz TM-20 on March 22, 1995. Upon landing, Polyakov opted not to be carried the few feet between the Soyuz capsule and a nearby lawn chair, instead walking the short distance. In doing so, he wished to prove that humans could be physically capable of working on the surface of Mars after a long-duration transit phase.

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