Friday, May 27, 2011

Fincke Sets New U.S. Space Endurance Record

The United States has a new space endurance champion: Michael Fincke, a veteran of two expeditions to the International Space Station and a mission specialist on the ongoing flight of Endeavour, NASA's next-to-last shuttle mission.

Fincke matched the American benchmark set by NASA Chief Astronaut Peggy Whitson -- 377 days -- around 8 p.m. tonight.

"It's certainly an honor to get a chance to fly in space and especially for long periods of time," Fincke told reporters in a space-to-ground news conference on Thursday.

But he said any record held now will be "long forgotten when humans really start to explore the solar system."

The current world record -- 803 days -- is held by Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev. Krikalev accumulated his time in space during six missions on the Russian Space Station Mir, the U.S. space shuttle and the International Space Station.

Fincke now is 20th on the list of space explorers who have accumulated the most time in orbit.

The record for the longest single space mission -- 438 days -- is held by Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov. He set the record aboard the Mir space station.

The record for the longest U.S. spaceflight -- 215 days -- is held by NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria. He tallied his total on three U.S. shuttle missions and an expedition to the International Space Station.

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