On this day in 2003, Ukrainian-Russian cosmonaut Yuri Ivanovich Malenchenko became the first person to marry in space when he wed Ekaterina Dmitrieva.
Born in Svitlovodsk, Kirovohrad Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Malenchenko graduated from the Kharkov Military Aviation School in 1983 and attended the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy. After graduation he served as a pilot, senior pilot, and flight lead in the Odessa Region before he was selected in 1987 as a cosmonaut and began space training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. He trained as commander of the Mir-14 reserve crew, as backup commander of the Mir-15 crew, and for the Mir-16 mission. He and fellow cosmonaut Talgat Musabayev lifted off to space on board the Soyuz TM-19 in 1994 and conducted medical experiments and experiments in material science. He also served as mission specialist for STS-106 and conducted several spacewalks.
But his most memorable mission and the one for which Malenchenko is perhaps best remembered was Expedition 7. Along with astronaut Edward Lu, Malenchenko lifted off to space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard the Soyuz TMA-2 on 26 April 2003. The spacecraft docked with the International Space Station on 28 April, where Malenchenko and Lu exchanged places with the resident crew onboard the ISS. During this expedition, in which Malenchenko would spend some 184 days, 22 hours, and 46 minutes in space, the Ukrainian-Russian cosmonaut would do what no other man has done in space: marry.
On 10 August 2003, some 386 kilometres over New Zealand in the International Space Station, Malenchenko married his sweetheart, Dmitrieva, who was in Texas, via satellite. Theirs had been a long-distance relationship all along, so the very long distance wedding only seemed appropriate, Dmitrieva told CNN about the unusual wedding. Despite the nature of the setting, the wedding was formal and traditional, with bridesmaids, best men, ushers, a reception, cake, and even a first dance with the bride’s father. The only thing missing in the flesh, of course, was the groom.