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Kononenko 300x206 - Oleg Kononenko reaches a record-setting 1000 days in spaceTurkmensNews-  As Moscow’s clocks tick past midnight to welcome Wednesday, June 5, the world heralds a new hero: a man who already is a national icon in Russia and his homeland Turkmenistan. Six decades after Yuri Gagarin first conquered space, Oleg Kononenko — a quiet, unassuming mechanical engineer, avid reader, and volleyball player — becomes the first person to log 1,000 days off planet Earth.

“I sometimes go back in time and analyze the steps and actions I took,” he once said in an interview. “And I realize that the vector was always pointed towards space.”

Spread over 16 years and five International Space Station (ISS) expeditions, Kononenko’s feat equates to 33 months, or 1.6 percent of his life — he was born in June 1964. He’s orbited Earth 16,000 times and flown 420 million miles (675 million kilometers) — enough “space mileage” for hundreds of round trips to the Moon, a voyage to Mars, or even a one-way ticket to Jupiter.

Kononenko’s “kilo-versary” places humanity in ample stead to explore deep space. Since April 2008, he’s shared the ISS with 55 individuals from 13 nations, including the first astronauts from South Korea, Denmark, Türkiye, and Belarus. He flew twice with Gennady Padalka, the Russian cosmonaut who first held the world record for the longest space-time with 878 days — which Kononenko broke February 4 of this year.

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