Kononenko was born June 21, 1964, in Chardzhou, Turkmen SSR. He is married to Tatiana Mikhailovna Kononenko (née Yurieva). They have a son, Andrey Olegovich Kononenko, and a daughter, Alisa Olegovna Kononenko. Kononenko enjoys reading, and team sports.
Kononenko graduated from the N. E. Zhukovskiy Kharkiv Aviation Institute in 1988 as a mechanical engineer.
Kononenko was awarded the Hero of the Russian Federation medal and the Yu. A. Gagarin Medal of the Cosmonautics Federation, Russia. President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov awarded the cosmonaut with the Star of President Order.
After graduation, Kononenko worked at the Russian Space Agency’s Central Specialized Design Bureau TsSKB-Progress in Kuybishev, starting as an engineer and working his way up to leading design engineer. His responsibilities included system design, analysis, and development of spacecraft electrical power systems.
On March 29, 1996, Oleg was selected as a cosmonaut candidate by the Interagency Committee, and from June 1996 to March 1998, he underwent cosmonaut training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center and on March 20, 1998, was awarded the title of test cosmonaut by the Interagency Qualification Committee. In October 1998 he began training as part of the group of cosmonauts selected for the International Space Station (ISS) Program.
From December, 2001, through April 2002, Kononenko trained as a backup flight engineer for the Soyuz TM-34 vehicle for the third ISS visiting crew. From March 2002, through February 2004, he trained as the flight engineer for the Soyuz TMA vehicle and the Expedition 9 and Expedition 11 primary crews. From March 2004 through March 2006, he trained as part of the group of cosmonauts selected for the ISS Program. In March 2006, Kononenko began training as a flight engineer for the Soyuz TMA-12 vehicle and the Expedition 17 crew.
Kononenko was a Flight Engineer on both the Expedition 17 mission to the International Space Station, and the Soyuz TMA-12 mission that flew him there. The crew launched on April 8, 2008, and landed on October 24, 2008. Kononenko spent 199 days in space.
Kononenko returned to Earth with Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov, and spaceflight participant Richard Garriott (who launched aboard Soyuz TMA-13 to the ISS on October 12, 2008 with the Expedition 18 crew). They landed at 11:37 p.m EDT 55 miles north of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. They were flown to the Baikonur Cosmodrome by helicopter, and then went on to Zvezdny Gorodok (Star City), Moscow.
On December 21, 2011, Kononenko, along with André Kuipers and Donald Pettit, launched to the International Space Station to join the crew of Expedition 30. He, along with his fellow crewmembers, arrived at the space station on December 23. They returned to Earth on July 1, 2012.
Kononenko conducted his first spacewalk on July 10, 2008 when he ventured into space from the Pirs docking compartment airlock of the ISS. He and cosmonaut Volkov inspected their Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft and retrieved a pyro bolt from it. This spacewalk lasted 6 hours and 18 minutes.
On July 15, 2008 Kononenko again went outside from Pirs to conduct his second spacewalk. Kononenko and Volkov installed one experiment and retrieved another. They also continued to outfit the station's exterior, including the installation of a docking target on the Zvezda service module. The spacewalk was in Russian Orlan suits and Kononenko wore an Orlan suit with blue stripes. The spacewalk lasted 5 hours and 54 minutes.
On February 12, 2012, Kononenko and colleague cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov were scheduled to conduct a six-hour spacewalk outside the ISS. They installed shields on the Zvezda Service Module to protect it from micrometeoroid orbital debris and moved the Strela 1 crane from the Pirs docking compartment to the Poisk Mini Research Module (MRM-2). The two cosmonauts also installed struts on a ladder used by spacewalkers on the Pirs Docking Compartment. As another get-ahead task, they also installed an experiment called Vynoslivost on the Poisk Mini Research Module. As part of the Vynoslivost or "Endurance" experiment, two trays of metal samples would be left exposed on the surface of the Poisk Module.
On July 22, 2015, Kononenko launched to the International Space Station as Soyuz Commander, together with NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Soyuz-TMA-17M. They spent 5 months on the International Space Station as members of the Expedition 44 and Expedition 45 Crews. The trio returned to Earth in rare night landing on December 11, 2015, when their Soyuz TMA-17m landed safely on the steppe of Kazakhstan. Kononenko spent 142 days in space on his third mission.
Kononenko is scheduled to launch to the Spacestation for the fourth time aboard Soyuz MS-11 in November 2018, he will serve as Flight Engineer for Expedition 58, and as Spacestation-Commander for Expedition 59.Hero of the Russian Federation (5 February 2009) - for courage and heroism during space flight
Medal "For Merit in Space Exploration" (12 April 2011) - for great achievements in the field of research, development and utilization of outer space, many years of diligent work, public activities
Star of the President (Turkmenistan, 16 February 2009) - In recognition of service to the government and people of Turkmenistan, for personal courage, professionalism and achievement in the performance of an international program of peaceful space exploration
Pilot-Cosmonaut of the Russian Federation (2009)
Honorary Citizen of Gagarin, Smolensk Oblast (24 February 2011) - years of excellence, a deep sense of personal responsibility, the ability to navigate the complex situation and make the right decisions for his devotion to his country and the continuation of the stellar feats of Yuri Gagarin
NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal (US, 2008)
NASA Space Flight Medal (USA, 2008)