Musa (Musakhi) Kharimovich Manarov was born on March 22, 1951, in Baku, USSR, in what is now the independent nation of Azerbaijan. He is a Lakets, one of the many ethnic groups that made up the former Soviet Union, and in the Lakets language, his first name is Musakhi. His father was in the Soviet army and the family moved frequently. Manarov attended the Moscow Aviation institute from 1969 to 1974, graduating as an engineer. He then went to work in the Korolev Design Bureau as a tester of space equipment and an experiment analyst.

Musa Manarov became a cosmonaut on December 1, 1978, after three years of examinations. He did not begin actual cosmonaut training until 1983. In the interim, he served as the flight controller for the Soviet’s Salyut and Mir space stations and shift flight director at mission control. He began training for the Soyuz TM-4 mission to Mir with Mission Commander Vladimir Titov in early 1987.

Manarov and Titov, the third crew to occupy Mir, stayed from December 21, 1987, to December 21, 1988. They performed hundreds of hours of scientific, industrial and medical experiments, including completing a solar array installation, inspection of the exterior of the station, and repair of a telescope. They also hosted two visiting cosmonaut crews while staying in space 365.94 days, becoming the first humans to spend a year in outer space. Since then, only cosmonauts Valeri Polyakov (437.7 days) and Sergei Avdeyev (379.6 days) have spent more consecutive days in space.

On December 2, 1990, as part of the Mir EO-8 crew, Musa Manarov returned to Mir aboard Soyuz TM-11 along with cosmonaut V. M. Afanasyev and T. Akiyami of Japan, a joint mission with the private Japanese company TBS. The Japanese television network paid $28,000,000 for the first commercial flight to the Soviet space station to put Akiyama, the first journalist in space, and he made daily television broadcasts.

The crew, primarily Manarov, in several extravehicular activities (EVAs), repaired the Kvant 2 hatch and installed the Strela boom on Mir. Manarov also helped install solar array supports, and in another EVA, inspected the Kurs docking system antenna. On May 26, 1991, he returned to Earth after another 175.08 days aboard Mir, for a then-record 541 cumulative days in space (as of 2007 he ranked eighth for total time in space). Manarov has performed seven EVAs for a total of 1.44 days. Musa Manarov retired from the cosmonaut service with the rank of colonel in the Russian Air Force on July 23, 1992, and was later a Director of Smolsat, a Russian space consortium.