Valery Ryumin, who set space endurance record, dies at 82

Valery Ryumin, a Soviet tank commander who became a cosmonaut and spent more than a year in space, setting endurance records – then, aft...


Valery Ryumin, a Soviet tank commander who became a cosmonaut and spent more than a year in space, setting endurance records – then, after 18 years, took another flight, this time on a space shuttle American – died on Monday. He was 82 years old.

The Russian federal space company, Roscosmos, announced his death. Dmitry Rogozin, the company’s director, called Mr Ryumin’s death an “irreparable loss”, but did not say where he died or name the cause.

Mr Ryumin’s first mission, on Soyuz 25, was supposed to last 90 days, but ended after just two when the vehicle failed to dock with the Salyut 6 orbital space station.

During his next two missions, Mr. Ryumin and his teammates set space endurance records: 175 days with Vladimir Lyakhov on Soyuz 32 in 1979 and 185 days with Leonid Popov on Soyuz 35 in 1980.

These early flights were considered invaluable for their scientific advancements. They were also water for propaganda.

Mr. Ryumin and his team conducted experiments that included testing gamma-ray telescopes and hatching quail eggs. They welcomed the first Cuban, Hungarian and Vietnamese cosmonauts to the space station and appeared live on a video screen in a Moscow stadium during the 1980 Summer Olympics.

By the time Mr Ryumin retired in 1980, after his third mission, he had logged 362 days in space, a record for any cosmonaut or astronaut at the time.

From 1981 to 1989 he was flight director for the Salyut 7 and Mir space stations. (The Salyut went wrong in 1985 and was recovered by the Soviets in a salvage that became the basis for the 2017 Russian film “Salyut 7.”) He later led the Russian part of the shuttle-Mir program, the first collaboration between NASA and the Russian space agency.

In 1998, 18 years after his third and presumably final flight, Mr Ryumin applied to join the crew of US space shuttle Discovery STS-91. The shuttle was to dock with Russia’s Mir space station, which has been in orbit for 12 years.

“After my three flights in the 80s, I thought it would be good to fly for the fourth time,” he said in a interview with NASA two months before launch.

“I thought it would be very useful for someone who has a very good experience of flying and living to visit the station,” he added. “I believe I will be able to see more details and more things compared to young cosmonauts or crew members.”

Mr. Ryumin had to lose about 55 pounds to qualify for the mission. Discovery docked at Mir in June 1998; he spent four days on the space station before returning home, having logged a total of 371 days in space across the four missions.

“During these joint operations during phase 1 of the program, we learned a lot,” he said. “We learned to understand each other. We familiarized ourselves with the philosophies of each country.

Valery Victorovich Ryumin was born on August 16, 1939 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, in the Russian Far East. He graduated from the Technical College of Mechanical Engineering in Kaliningrad in 1958.

He served as an army tank commander from 1958 to 1961 and graduated in electronics and computer technology in 1965 from the Forest Engineering Institute in Moscow, where he specialized in gear control systems spatial.

After working for the Rocket and Space Corporation, Mr. Ryumin joined the Cosmonaut Corps in 1973. He was twice named a Hero of the Soviet Union.

Survivors include his wife, Yelena Kondakova, a fellow cosmonaut; their daughter, Yevgeniya; and two children, Viktoria and Vadim, from a previous marriage, with Natalya Ryumina.

While a graduate student, Mr. Ryumin trained with the company that made the first Sputnik satellite. But, he said in the NASA interview, he never imagined that one day he too would orbit the Earth.

“At that time, it was like a big fantasy, and I could never have imagined that I would have to do this, which I did,” he said. “I could never dream of it.

“Now children can dream and they can say, from an early age, ‘I’m going to be an astronaut or a cosmonaut,'” he added. “People of my generation couldn’t dream of it, because they didn’t know what to dream about back then.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Valery Ryumin, who set space endurance record, dies at 82
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