By Merve Berker
ANKARA (AA) – Valery Polyakov, a Soviet-era cosmonaut who set the record for the longest single stay in space, has died at the age of 80, Russia’s state space agency Roscosmos announced.
Born in the Soviet industrial heartland of Tula on April 24, 1942, Polyakov qualified as a physician before being selected as a cosmonaut in 1972.
He spent a record 437 consecutive days (over 14 months) aboard the Mir space station from January 1994 to March 1995. He orbited the Earth over 7,000 times before returning.
When landing, Polyakov refused to be carried out from the Soyuz capsule, as is common practice, to allow readjustment to the pull of gravity. He was instead helped out with the assistance of others.
He worked on experiments to test if the human body could endure extended periods in space, spending a total of 678 days, 16 hours and 32 minutes in orbit as part of different missions.
“His research has helped prove that the human body is ready to travel not only to Earth’s orbit, but also into deep space,” Roscosmos said in its statement on Monday. It did not specify the time or cause of his death.
Polyakov was awarded several awards for his service to Russian space programs, including the Hero of Russia title.