Sergei Krikalev

astronauts, Sergei Krikalev, ROSCOSMOS

(27 August 1958)

Sergei Krikalev is a former cosmonaut. At the time of this portrait he had spent more time in space than any other person. A total of 803 days, 9 hours, and 39 minutes across 6 space flights. Since then he has dropped to fourth in the rankings.

Krikalev was stranded on board the Mir space station when the Soviet Union collapsed. As the country that had sent him into space no longer existed, his return was delayed and he stayed in space for 311 consecutive days, twice the length of the planned mission. Sometimes referred to as “the last Soviet citizen”, he is the only person to go ito space the citizen of one country, and return as the citizen of another.

Krikalev’s first mission to Mir was aboard Soyuz TM-7 in November 1988. He returned to Earth in April 1989.

His second launch was aboard Soyuz TM-12 in May 1991. The flight was notable for having the first British astronaut, Helen Sharman, as a part of the crew. Sharman returned to Earth a week later, while Krikalev remained on Mir until March 1992 having conducted seven space walks.

His third flight to space was the first by a Russian cosmonaut aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-60. Commanded by Charlie Bolden this was the first of the Shuttle-Mir Program flights.

Krikalev’s fourth mission was again aboard a NASA Space Shuttle (Endeavour) on STS-88 in December 1998. This was the first ISS assembly mission, and he and American astronaut Robert Cabana were the first people to enter the ISS when they turned on the lights in the US Unity Module.

On October 31st, 2000 Krikalev launched from RoscosmosBaikonur Cosmodrome on Soyuz TM-31 heading for the first Soyuz docking with the ISS. He, Yuri Pavlovich and American Bill Shepherd formed Expedition 1. The least experienced of the crew, Shepherd’s position as mission commander was controversial. Soyuz TM-31 docked with the ISS on November 2, 2000. It marked the beginning of an uniterrupted permanent presence on the ISS. Krikalev returned to Earth with his Expedition 1 crewmates aboard STS-102 (Space Shuttle Endeavour) in March 2001.

Krikalev’s final mission was as commander of Expedition 11 during which he undertook his seventh EVA. Launching in April 2005 aboard Soyuz TMA-6, he returned to Earth for the final time in October of that year.

Photographed at the International Astronautical Congress in Glasgow. October 2008.