Russian Valery Polyakov, who holds record for longest space mission, dead at 80

Valery Polyakov, the Russian cosmonaut who set the record for the longest time spent in space, has died at the age of 80, the Russian space agency announced on Monday.

Polyakov’s record of 437 days in space began on January 8, 1994, when he and two others made a two-day flight to the Mir space station, operated by the Soviet Union and then Russia. While on Mir, he orbited Earth more than 7,000 times, before returning on March 22, 1995.

Upon landing, Polyakov refused to be taken out of the Soyuz capsule, as was common practice to allow for the re-adjustment of gravity’s drag. He was helped to climb out but was able to get to a nearby chair and then a vehicle.

Polyakov was trained as a doctor and wanted to prove that the human body can endure long periods of time in space.

Polyakov previously spent 288 days in space on a mission in 1988 and 1989.

The statement from the space agency Roscosmos did not specify a cause of death.

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