After a record 439 straight days in space, Russia's star cosmonaut came home Wednesday looking remarkably fit.
Dr. Valery Polyakov, 52, returned with two other cosmonauts. All flew to the cosmonaut training base outside Moscow for a week or two of medical tests and reconditioning.
During 14 1/2 months in the space station Mir, Polyakov circled Earth more than 7,000 times, extending his record total to 607 days in space.
He, cosmonaut Yelena Kondakova and commander Alexander Viktorenko left behind a new three-person crew on the Mir, including U.S. astronaut Norman Thagard, who aims to break the Americans' comparatively modest record of 84 straight days in space. Ms. Kondakova set a record for a woman in space: 170 days.
"When I saw Dr. Polyakov, I was amazed at how good he looks," said Andrei Markian, an immunologist. "This can sometimes be a tense time, but I don't anticipate any problems."