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In conjunction with the recent Союз ТМА-18М mission there have been references to the «годовая» экпедиция of Scott Kelly and Михаил Корниенко, who spent 340 days in space.

My understanding of Russian "year" adjectives is:

  • ежего́дный = annual, yearly (happens once a year, every year, e.g., annual meeting)
  • годово́й = annual, yearly (characteristic of an entire year, e.g., annual salary, average temperature over an entire year)
  • годи́чный = yearlong, one-year (lasting one year)
  • годова́лый = one year old (e.g., a one year old child, or полуторагодовалый for an 18 month old child)
  • одноле́тний = annual (in the sense of a plant that is not a perennial), OR having the same age (as someone else)
  • двуле́тний = biennial (in the sense of a plant that is not annual or perennial, but takes two years to fully develop)
  • двухле́тний = two years long, two-year (lasting two years) OR two year old (e.g., a two year old child)
  • пятиле́тний = same as above, but for five years
  • пятиме́сячный = same as above, but for five months

Annual salary would use годовой because it is not a salary that is paid once a year, but rather is the total salary over the course of a year.

An annual report is годовой отчет because even though it's produced once a year (ежегодный), it's best understood as a summary of an entire year's events.

Tree rings are годичные кольца, I suppose because each one represents a one-year time span.

However, I'm not sure about годовая экспедиция or годовой полёт. Would it make sense to talk about a годичная экспедиция instead, and what nuance does годовая give instead?

The starship Enterprise in Star Trek had a пятилетняя миссия, but if it was a one-year mission instead, would it be a годичная миссия or a годовая миссия? (or perhaps командировка, I'm not sure what the distinction would be between a миссия and a командирока).

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There is a good answer on rus.stackexchange.com:

Годовой - получающийся к концу года, в итоге за год; рассчитанный на год (доход, прибыль, убытки, расходы, собрание, оценка, подшивка; запас чего-л., задание и т.п.). I.e. something that is a result of a year, appears at the end of the year or is calculated for one year.

Годичный - продолжающийся, длящийся в течение года (курс чего-л., аспирантура, стажировка, командировка, цикл чего-л. и т.д.). I.e. something that takes place over the course of one year.

With that in mind, "годовая экспедиция" is clearly incorrect in this context, even though it is quite frequently used by the media. It should be "годичная экспедиция".

Note that годичный also meant "annual" formerly, and there are some idioms that still use it with this meaning, most notably in conjunction with terms like "assembly" or "conference": Годичная научная конференция РАУ, Годичное собрание Общества физиологов растений России.

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Anton's answer describes proper Russian, but today "годовой" is usually used instead of "годичный". I searched the pairs of годовой/годичный and срок/кольцо/цикл/экспедиция in Google, and in all cases "годовой" gave me several times more results, except with "срок".

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This is what one may call "a normal mistake". Yes, "годичный" is right word here, but people keep saying "годовой", so pointing at this looks a bit overpuristic.

On the matter of "командировка" vs. "миссия". Roughly saying, if your boss says you to go to NY, it's "командировка"; but if Master Jedi says you to go to blow up the Death Star, it's certainly "миссия". As all this scientific stuff, space exploration, saving humankind etc. are considered to be very important things, both Star Trek and Soyuz-TMA may have only "a mission".

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    For that matter, "экспедиция" also sounds strange here. This word has a strong association with exploration, travelling to new lands etc. Calling the N-th flight on a well-established route to a frequently visited space station an expedition is a bit too pompous in my opinion. Mar 7 '16 at 14:13
  • @AntonPoznyakovskiy Well, austronatics is still very hard and risky work, anyway. And for that matter, they still have such a privilege. Maybe a couple of centuries later we'd finally call it "a business space trip" - at least, I hope so.
    – Matt
    Mar 7 '16 at 14:53

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