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A Match Made in the Heavens and on Earth

August 11, 2003|From Associated Press

HOUSTON — The bride blew the groom a kiss. He blew one back -- from about 240 miles above Earth.

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko didn't let the fact that he's living aboard the international space station stop him from marrying his earthbound bride, Ekaterina Dmitriev, in the first wedding 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, held 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 spacesuit, returns to Earth in late October. The couple plan a Russian Orthodox wedding sometime next year.

Dmitriev, 27, left Russia for the U.S. with her parents when she was 3 and lives in Houston.

Her 41-year-old groom, 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, and he even performed the wedding march on a keyboard in the space station.

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