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Former astronaut helps break flight record over bars

  Polar Flight 750

Col. Terry Virts (center) in sunglasses and British pilot Captain Hamish Harding, third from right, pose with other crew members in Florida. AP

A former astronaut returned to Nada Kennedy Space Center after breaking two records for a round-the-world flight over the North and South Poles.

Terry Virts was part of the team, whose 46-hour, 39-minute and 38-second polar orbit ended where it started. They set the endurance and speed records in a Qatar Executive Gulfstream G650ER aircraft.

Their average speed was 861 km / h first moon landing.

Virts' former crewmate of the space station, the Russian Gennady Padalka, was on the first two stages of the flight. Padalka, the space champion with 879 days in orbit, left the country during a refueling stop. Virts said in a tweet that the three stops were "NASCAR pit stop intense". Each stop lasted less than an hour.

The plane took off from the former runway of the Space Shuttle on Tuesday at 9:32 am – just like the Saturn V rocket of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969. It crossed the North Pole. stopped in Kazakhstan and then Mauritius, crossed the South Pole, stopped in Chile and then returned to Florida.

The speed record, which was recognized by the World Air Sports Federation, was last set up in 2008. 823 km / h). The "One More Orbit" crew also set a Guinness world record for the flight duration, which was last set in 1977 in San Francisco at 54 hours. At the landing on Thursday representatives of both organizations were present.

Associated Press

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