first orbital wedding
- In its glorious history the Soviet space programme has set many records,
including the first orbital vehicle, and the first person in orbit, as
well as many orbital endurance records. Despite reduced budgets and hard
times, it seems even in the post-Soviet era, the Russians have the ability
to set some new records. Congratulations to the bride and groom, and many
years of happiness together to both of them! One word of caution to Yuri
Malenchenko, however: After so much time in orbit, you will need time to
adjust to earth's gravity, so don't be in a hurry to consumate your marriage
when you get back :-)
The following article, attributed to Juan A. Lozano of the Associated Press,
appeared on page A3 of the Monday, August 11, 2003 edition of The Arizona
A WEDDING THAT'S OUT OF THIS WORLD
Cosmonaut Marries Earthbound Bride By Video
Houston--The bride blew the groom a kiss. He blew one back, from 240 miles
above terra firma.
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko didn't let the fact that he is living
aboard the International Space Station stop him from marrying his Earthbound
bride, Ekaterina Dmitriev, in the first wedding ever conducted from space.
The couple wed Sunday before family and friends in a private ceremony at
Johnson Space Center in Houston, where Malenchenko took part via video. Texas
law allows weddings in which one of the parties is not present.
"It was very sweet," said Joanne Woodward, the wedding planner.
A life-size cutout of the groom greeted guests at the wedding reception, at a
restaurant decorated with silver stars and mannequins dressed as astronauts.
The honeymoon will have to wait until after Malenchenko, who wore a bow tie
with his blue space suit, returns to Earth in late October. They plan a
Russian Orthodox wedding next year.
Dmitriev, who wore a cream-colored wedding dress, said the two had grown
closer during their time apart, making them want to marry as soon as possible.
"As Yuri was farther away, he was closer to me because of the communication we
have," Dmitriev said. "It was a celestial, soulful connection that we have."
The two met five years ago and began dating last year.
He is a Russian AIr Force colonel who stayed aboard space station Mir for
four months in 1994. She left Russia for the United States with her parents
when she was three and lives in Houston.
After their relationship began, Malenchenko, 41, returned to Russia to train
for his upcoming space mission, but the two continued their courtship via
telephone. The cosmonaut proposed in December.
Because Malenchenko was preparing for his mission and there was no time to
plan a wedding, they decide to get married while he was still in space. The
couple was issued a marriage license July 17.
Malenchenko, who blasted off to the station in late April with American
astronaut Edward Lu, quietly arranged to have his tail coat and wedding ring
flown to him aboard a cargo ship that arrived at the station in June. Lu
served as his best man during Sunday's ceremony, and even performed the
wedding march on a keyboard in the space station.
Officials with the Russian Aerospace Agency had tried to convince Malenchenko
to delay the wedding until he returned to Earth, citing legal complexities and
Soviet-era rules requiring military officers to get permission to marry
The air force chief, Colonel-General Vladimir Mikhailov, reportedly said a
"cosmonaut mustn't behave like a movie star."
Russian officials ultimately gave their blessing but said other cosmonauts
won't be able to do the same and such rules will be included in future
In Russia on Sunday, Malenchenko's father, Ivan, told the state-run television
channel Rossiya that the space wedding had made the cosmonaut's mother, Nina,
cry and said, "What is this needed for, a sensation for the whole world?"
His parents are pensioners in a Ukrainian village.