Gennady Ivanovich Padalka (Russian: Геннадий Иванович Падалка) was born June 21, 1958, in Krasnodar, Russia. He is married to Irina Anatolievna Padalka (Ponomareva). They have three daughters: Yulia, Ekaterina and Sonya. Gennady enjoys the theater, parachute sport and diving. Padalka is a recipient of the Hero Star of the Russian Federation and the title of Russian Federation Test-Cosmonaut. He has logged 1500 flight hours in six types of aircraft as a First Class Pilot in the Russian Air Force. In addition, he has performed more than 300 parachute jumps as an Instructor of General Parachute Training.
Padalka graduated from Eisk Military Aviation College in 1979. After graduation, he served as a pilot and later a senior pilot in the Russian Air Force, eventually attaining the rank of colonel. He was selected as a cosmonaut candidate to start training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in 1989. From June 1989 to January 1991, he attended basic space training. In 1991, Padalka was qualified as a test-cosmonaut. He worked as an engineer-ecologist at the UNESCO International Center of Instruction Systems until 1994.
From August 28, 1996 to July 30, 1997, he trained for space flight on the Soyuz-TM transport vehicle/Mir orbital complex as a commander of the backup crew for the Mir 24/NASA-5, 6 Russian-American program of the 24th primary Expedition, Pegasus Russian–French program and Euro-Mir program. From October 1997 to August 1998, Padalka attended training for a spaceflight aboard the Soyuz-TM/Mir orbital complex as a primary crew commander (Expedition 26 Program). From August 13, 1998, to February 28, 1999, he served aboard the Soyuz-TM-28/Mir orbital complex as the Expedition 26 crew commander, logging 198 days in space.
Following his stint as crew commander, Padalka attended training for a space flight on a “Soyuz-TM” transport vehicle as an ISS contingency crew commander from June 1999 through July 2000. He then was trained as the ISS-4 back-up crew commander until November 2001. In March 2002, Padalka was assigned as station commander of the ISS Expedition-9 crew.