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326 days in space.

326 days in space

Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko's 326 days aboard the Mir space station, a sojourn that ended when he returned to earth Dec. 29 (along with two colleagues completing shorter stays), may have meant more than just a new record for time spent in space by a human being. According to Houston engineer James Oberg, a long-time watcher of the Soviet space program, Romanenko's lengthy stay may mean that Soviet medical researchers have finally identified a leveling-off of the rate of bone demineralization previously experienced by cosmonauts and astronauts alike in conditions of near-zero gravity.

Romanenko's residency in orbit exceeded the old 237-day mark by three full months, and Oberg says that even beforehand Soviet sources had revealed plans for the much longer stay. It represents a significantly larger increase than previous visits, possibly a sign that a leveling-off of the bone demineralization had already been observed after previous flights, giving the Soviets "uncharacteristic confidence" to take a longer step. Furthermore, Oberg adds, Soviet sources indicate that one of three cosmonauts who boarded the station on Dec. 23 may be aloft for a year.
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Title Annotation:Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 2, 1988
Words:186
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