During the time of the Soviet Union, Russian cosmonauts were not allowed to marry foreigners. This was a rule of Soviet-era military law that would be broken if Malenchenko was to marry Ekaterina Dmitriev, a U.S. citizen who was living in Russia.
The Russian Aerospace Agency attempted to convince Malenchenko to postpone his wedding, but he refused. After Yuri Malenchenko’s five-year space mission, his career was considered finished. He was given the Hero of the Russian Federation award, the country’s highest honor. He was also denied a promotion to first deputy head of the CPC.
Malenchenko and Dmitriev were planning to get married in June of next year in Russia. They decided on the church in Yaroslavl, a city north of Moscow. After their wedding, they would move to Russia. The couple decided to have a religious wedding, but they also wanted to exchange vows in space. Luckily, they were able to do so.
The Russian space agency disapproved their plan to have a wedding in space, but Dmitriev and Malenchenko were not able to postpone the ceremony. They were issued a marriage license on July 17, and Ekaterina Dmitriev and Yuri Malenchenko were married on October 13. The wedding was televised on Russian television, but not on NASA television. They also held a video conference, but it was classified as a private family conference.
The Russian Aerospace Agency argued that an active Russian officer must get permission from the military before he can marry a foreigner. They said that other cosmonauts would not be able to marry in space. Dmitriev and Malenchenko disagreed, and argued that they had not renounced their U.S. citizenship. The couple was married by video link and through satellite, and they were issued a marriage license.
The Russian Aerospace Agency also argued that Malenchenko’s contract with the Russian Space Agency said that he could not conduct a wedding ceremony in space. This was a violation of his contract. Malenchenko’s wife, Ekaterina Dmitriev, had never renounced her U.S. citizenship, so she was still under the contract.
The Russian Air Force also disagreed with the couple. They said that the Russian cosmonaut could not have a wedding in space because he had not renounced his citizenship.
Malenchenko was born in 1961, and he was a Russian citizen. He was an accomplished astronaut and performed multiple spacewalks. In 1994, he spent four months on the space station Mir. After that, he went on two more missions on the ISS. He is the second-longest space cosmonaut in history, and he holds the Hero of the Russian Federation award. He has also performed two spacewalks on a space shuttle.
Ekaterina Dmitriev was born in Houston, Texas, and she moved to Russia after Malenchenko’s retirement from the cosmonaut corps. She was at the NASA headquarters before Yuri Malenchenko’s space mission, but he was at the International Space Station when he returned.
After the wedding, Malenchenko returned to Russia to train for a space mission. He also performed two spacewalks on a shuttle and went on two more missions on the ISS. His mission was extended to October. He was able to see his bride, Ekaterina Dmitriev, for the first time in two months.