Nikolai Budarin is a Russian cosmonaut and a veteran of three extended space missions aboard the Mir Space Station and the International Space Station. He was born Nikolai Mikhailovich Budarin on April 29, 1953 in Kirya, Chuvashia. Budarin is married to Marina Lvovna Budarina, and they have two sons, Dmitry and Vladislav.
In 1971, Budarin served in the Soviet Army in Czechoslovakia. He graduated from the evening education department of the Moscow Aviation Institute in 1979, specializing in aircraft manufacturing and mechanical engineering. Budarin held many different engineering positions at Energia as an electrician, an electrical foreman, a test engineer, and as the lead specialist at the NPO Energia testing facility.
In 1989, Budarin was enrolled in the Energia cosmonaut unit as a candidate test cosmonaut. He then finished a four month complete basic space training course at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center and qualified as a Test Cosmonaut. Following this, he took an advanced training course for the Soyuz-TM transport vehicle and the Mir Station flight. In May 1994, he began training as the flight engineer of the backup crew of Soyuz TM-21 under Expedition-18/NASA-1 program, as well as the flight engineer of the main crew of Mir under Expedition-19 program. In 1995, Budarin was trained for two months as the flight engineer of the first crew, and then two more months for the next. On June 27, 1995, Budarin was launched into space aboard Shuttle Atlantis on the STS-71 mission. After two days of flight, the space shuttle docked with the Mir station, and Budarin spent 75 days in space. During this time, he successfully completed three spacewalks to prepare and install the MIRAS spectrometer. He returned to Earth aboard the Soyuz TM-21 spacecraft on September 11, 1995.
In 1998, Budarin participated in his second space mission as a board engineer of the 25th long-term expedition at the Mir orbital station. He launched on January 29 aboard the Soyuz TM-27 spacecraft and docked with the Mir station on January 31. During his stay, together with Musabayev and NASA astronaut Andy Thomas, he performed many experiments dedicated to the life sciences, physical sciences physiques and space technology. Budarin also conducted five spacewalks to repair the broken Spektr solar panel, remove Mir’s VDU, and install a new UDV delivered by Progress M-38. After 207 days in space, Budarin landed safely back on Earth.
Between November 23, 2002 and May 3, 2003, Budarin logged 161 days in space as Expedition 6 Flight Engineer aboard the International Space Station. The crew was launched aboard shuttle Endeavour on November 24, 2002 and docked with the ISS the next day. During his time aboard the ISS, Budrain participated in several Russian science and medical experiments. One experiment, Diatomeya, determined the regions best suited for fishing by observing the ocean’s surface. The medical experiments studied the effects of microgravity on the human body. Budarin returned to Earth aboard the Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft on May 4, 2003.