The Physics
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wDuration of the Longest Space Flight

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Comparative Chronology of US and Russian Human Space Missions From November 1994 Through August 1996 [pdf]. History of Shuttle-Mir. NASA. "Commander Alexandr Viktorenko, Flight Engineer Yelena Kondakova, and cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who set a new record for human space flight duration with his 438-day stay." 438 days
Mir. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2006. "For example, medical doctor Valeriy Polyakov set a new world space-endurance record by living on Mir for 438 days-long enough for a spacecraft to travel to Mars." 438 days
"Also in March 1995, US astronaut Norman Thagard began a 114-day Mir flight, breaking the US 84-day space-endurance record set on Skylab in 1974." 114 days
84 days
West, John B. Physiology of a Microgravity Environment. 89 (2000): 379-384. "Polyakov subsequently spent 438 days continuously in space on the space station Mir." 438 days
Claire, Folkard, ed. Guinness World Records 2005. New York: Bantam Books, 2005. 291. "The earliest manned spaceflight was by cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin (USSR) in Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961. Vostok 1 was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, USSR, at 9:07 a.m. and landed near Smelovka, USSR, 115 minutes later." 115 mins
"Russain cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev logged a total of 747 days 14 hr. 22 min. on three spaceflights to the Mir space station from July 1992 to July 1999." 747 days
"439 Days in Space." New York Times 23 Mar. 1995. New York City. "After a record 439 days in space, Russia's star astronaut came home today looking fit and shaking hands with well-wishers." 439 days
"He and the two other astronauts who returned today left behind a new three-member crew on the Mir, including an American astronaut, Norman Thagard, who aims to break the American record of 84 days in space." 84 days

For decades, men and women have been traveling to space. The first manned spaceflight occurred on April 12, 1961 by Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin from the USSR. He traveled aboard the Vostok 1, which orbited the Earth once and returned to the planet after 108 minutes. However, this was not the end for the Soviets. They had five more Vostok missions, which included a spaceflight by the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova. On June 19, 1963, Tereshkova was launched into space aboard the Vostok 6. In addition to being the first woman in space, at 26 years old, Tereshkova was the youngest woman ever to be a part of a space mission.

In 1974, Gerald Carr, Ed Gibson, and Bill Pogue set a US endurance record of 84 days in space aboard the Skylab. However, in 1995, an American astronaut by the name of Norman Thagard broke this record by spending 114 days in space aboard the Russian's Mir space station.

Over the years, space travel has changed. In the beginning, spaceflights only lasted a few hours or days. At the present time, the record for the longest spaceflight goes to Valery Poliyakov (there are different spellings of his name in English). Poliyakov was a doctor from Russia who spent 437 days 17 hr. 58 min. 16 sec. aboard the Soyuz TM18. On January 8, 1994, he was launched to the Mir Station. He returned to Earth, aboard the Soyuz TM20, on March 22, 1995.

There are many other interesting records related to human spaceflight. On March 14, 1995, a record number of thirteen people were in space at one time. Seven of them were Americans that were on the STS 67 Endeavour, three cosmonauts were on the Mir space station, and an astronaut from the United States, along with two cosmonauts, were aboard Soyuz TM21.

There is also a record for the most cumulative amount of time in space. This achievement is held by Sergei Avdeyev, a Russian cosmonaut. He spent a total of 747 days on three separate spaceflights from 1992 to 1999.

Kiesha Harding -- 2006