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Three astronauts return to Earth safely, completing 371 day mission

One American, Frank Rubio, and two Russians, Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, early today safely returned to Earth in their Russian Soyuz capsule, completing the longest mission yet on ISS, 371 days, and the third longest human mission ever.

The mission was the longest by accident. It was originally supposed to be a standard six month tour, but was extended to a year when the Soyuz capsule they came in developed a leak in its coolant system and had to be replaced.

The previous record for an American in space of 355 days was set by Mark Vande Hei last year. This new year-long mission is only exceeded by two Russian missions on Mir, Valeri Polykov’s 439 day mission in 1994-1995, and Sergei Avdeyev’s 381 day mission in 1998-1999.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • pzatchok

    Brave brave people,

  • Concerned

    And probably permanently injured to some degree also. That Russian record holder I recall had some irreversible bone loss or similar tissue degeneration (macular related maybe?). I think those endless circles in LEO on the ISS has taught them at least that long term exposure to zero G is toxic, even with vigorous daily exercise. And they still don’t really know what level of gravity is acceptable for what duration (aka the gravity prescription).

  • Concerned: I interviewed Polykov in person in Moscow for several hours. He went to space as a trained, licensed doctor, whose speciality was space medicine. When he came back, he was probably in the best shape of almost anyone who has ever gone to space for a long mission.

    He required time to recover, but he had none of the issues you describe, at least nothing that was permanent. In fact, he was convinced if he had landed on Mars instead of Earth, he could have functioned fully. I remain unconvinced, but he certainly had justifiable reason to think so.

  • Robert, thank you for sharing your experience with Dr. Polykov. It seems to me that, as we as a species evolved with our environment, we will always be at disadvantage outside narrow environmental conditions that are by no means common. We are not made for space; but we still go. The physical challenges, though, are limiting.

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