What’s The Longest Time Someone Has Been In Space?

In terms of a singular space flight, Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov holds the record for the longest time in space. He spent a whopping 438 consecutive days in space from January 1994 to March 1995. Polyakov had a unique job aboard the Mir Space Station. He was not only a cosmonaut but one of the first medically trained personnel in space. His first mission took place in 1988 and his job was to oversee the health of his crewmates who were completing the first year-long space flight. However, he did not return with these crewmates, and instead he stayed aboard to welcome the new inhabitants of the space station. His first mission lasted for 241 consecutive days.

During his 438-day flight in 1994, Polyakov was tasked with understanding the effects microgravity has on the human body. This was in response to cosmonauts feeling more lethargic nearing the end of long space flights. Over these 14 months, Polyakov was studying the human body and the effects of weightlessness. He did this through a variety of investigations including, but not limited to, the balance regulation in the inner ear and the central nervous system. When he finally came back to Earth in 1995 he was fine, he insisted on walking and his mental state was relatively unscathed. Polyakov passed away at the age of 80 in September 2022.

The Most Non-Consecutive Days In Space?

Mir Space Station
Image of the Mir space station taken by the Space Shuttle. Image credit: NASA

Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka holds the record for most time spent in space over multiple missions. Over the course of seventeen years and five space flights, Padalka spent a total of 878-days in space. This equates to nearly two and a half years in orbit. He spent time on both the Mir space station and the International Space Station (ISS). Unlike Polyakov, Padalka was not a trained medical professional, instead he was a senior pilot for the Russian Air Force. As of 2017 Padalka has retired, so he will not be logging anymore days in space to further solidify his record. 

Women With the Most Days In Space?

International Space Station
The International Space Station. Image credit: NASA

Christina Koch set the womens record for the longest single spaceflight. Her mission went from March of 2019 to February of 2020. Over this time she racked up a total of 328-days in space. Koch is an American astronaut with a masters of electrical engineering as well as a bachelor of science in physics. She was also involved in the first all female spacewalk in 2019. Not only does she hold the record for the longest time a woman has spent in space but this is the only space flight mission that she has participated in.

Peggy Whitson, an American astronaut that has spent a total of 665 days in space, holds the female record for the most non-consecutive days in space. Prior to February of 2020 she also held the record for longest singal space flight at 289 days. Whitson holds a few other records as well. She has the most time in orbit of all American astronauts. At the age of 57 she became the oldest female astronaut ever to have been in space. She also holds the record for most spacewalks completed by a woman. As of 2018 Whitson has retired from her position at NASA and became a consultant for Axiom Space.

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