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Marriage made in heaven

Houston, Aug. 11 (Reuters): A Russian cosmonaut circling 380 km above the Earth on the International Space Station married his fiance in Texas yesterday in the first space wedding.

Peering into each other’s eyes via a satellite video hookup at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the two exchanged vows before 200 people in a ceremony that ended with bride Ekaterina Dmitriev blowing husband Yuri Malenchenko a long-distance kiss.

A beaming Dmitriev, dressed in a traditional white wedding dress, told reporters she was very happy, even though she will not see Malenchenko, 41, until he returns to Earth in late October or early November.

“It was cool; it went straight to the heart,” she said, standing next to a life-size cutout of Malenchenko that was to be his stand-in at a space-themed wedding reception.

Wedding organiser Jo Ann Woodward said the ceremony, closed to the press, was highly traditional except for the absence of the groom. Friend Harry Noe stood in as his proxy, which is permitted under Texas law, and gave Dmitriev, 26, her ring.

At the same time, Malenchenko, who wore a bow tie with his flight suit, slipped on a ring his new bride had shipped earlier to the space station. His crewmate and best man, Ed Lu, played the “wedding march” on an electronic keyboard.

Texas judge Bill Yeoman presided over the ceremony, which was conducted in English.

Dmitriev said she and Malenchenko began their relationship in April 2002 after meeting at the Outpost Tavern, a favourite astronaut haunt near Johnson Space Center.

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