Grim-faced 'naut Malenchenko prepares to return home

A smile from Yuri at the end of 186-day ISS stint?

By Lester Haines

Posted in Science, 10th June 2016 09:04 GMT

Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko is preparing to depart the International Space Station (ISS), and it remains to be seen if the famously grim-faced Russian cracks a smile when he finally touches down on terra firma.

Malenchenko and fellow Expedition 47 'nauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake are due to board the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft on 18 June for the return trip to Earth, having clocked up 186 days in space.

Here are the three of them before their departure from Baikonur cosmodrome back in December last year:

Tim Peake, Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra pose with the Soyuz lifter before heading to the ISS

Smile? I don't think so

The 'nauts prepare to board the Soyuz. Pic: NASA/Joel Kowsky

When he wraps his Expedition 47 stint, Malenchenko, 54, will have spent a total of 823 days in space* over six missions, having completed six spacewalks, totalling 34 hours and 52 minutes.

The Expedition 47 crew, from L-R: Oleg Skripochka, Jeff Williams, Alexey Ovchinin, Tim Peake, Tim Kopra and Yuri Malenchenko. Pic NASA

He first travelled aloft in 1994 to the Mir space station on the Mir-16 mission. He was aboard space shuttle Atlantis for NASA's STS-106 trip to the ISS in September 2000, and has since visited the orbiting outpost four times, including his current stay.

He was commander of 2003's Expedition 7, acted as flight engineer on Expedition 16 in 2007-8, and accompanied Japan's Akihiko Hoshide and NASA's Sunita Williams into space in 2012 as part of Expedition 32.

Malenchenko, Williams and Hoshide. Pic: NASA

Of course, it's highly unlikely that Malenchenko never smiles, and indeed he sort of did when he appeared in the form of a cardboard cut-out at his own wedding back in 2003. Here's further evidence, as he's apparently caught with his guard down last December when posing with Tim Peake:

Hold on, is that a... Pic: NASA / Joel Kowsky



*That's by our reckoning, give or take a day or so, and we're happy to be corrected. No doubt the official figure will be forthcoming in due course.

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily


More from The Register

US spook-sat buzzed the International Space Station

Amateur spy-watcher plots path to USA 276's fly-by

International Space Station astros prepare to rejoin us Earthlings

Human guinea pigs to be subjected to more testing after arrival

China's first space station to – ahem – de-orbit in late March

Tiangong-1 is out of control and can't keep it up any more

International Space Station celebrates 18th birthday in true style – by setting trash on fire

Meanwhile, crew welcomes oldest woman astronaut aboard

International Space Station braces for pre-Christmas rush

Much coming and going aboard orbiting outpost

NASA, Roscosmos: We're building a lunar space station!

Can't say where. Can't say when. Can't agree on Mars or Moon as target. But it'll happen!

NASA wants to sell International Space Station to private enterprise

For sale: Space station, several owners, billions of miles travelled

Three new 'nauts launched to the International Space Station

Floating space lab will back up to full capacity

LOST IN SPAAAAAACE! SpaceX aborts Space Station podule berthing

Navigational computer blunder halts cargo capsule hook-up

Trio of 'nauts thunder towards International Space Station

Soyuz soars heavenwards from Baikonur Cosmodrome