NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is set to return from the International Space Station next week following a record-breaking 355-day expedition, according to the Daily Mail.
Next week, American astronaut Mark Vande Hei will return to Earth alongside two other Russian cosmonauts. Despite the burden that Russia’s protracted invasion of Ukraine has imposed on Russia’s numerous space collaborations, this remains the plan.
“I can tell you for sure: Mark is coming home on that Soyuz,” Joel Montalbano, the manager of NASA’s International Space Station program, said during a news conference on March 14. “We are in communication with our Russian colleagues; there’s no fuzz on that.”
Two of the three astronauts, including Mark and Russian Pyotr Dubrov, will return to Earth after spending 355 days aboard the ISS. They were launched into space on April 5, 2021. The duo, together with cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, is scheduled to return to Earth on March 30.
The March 30 event will happen the same way as previous Soyuz returns. First, Vande Hei, Dubrov, and Shkaplerov will land on Kazakhstan’s plains. About 20 NASA personnel will be waiting to check Vande Hei’s physical health since he has been in microgravity for almost a year, which can be quite harsh on the human body. Then, he would be transported back to Houston, where NASA’s human spaceflight program is based. Finally, the other cosmonauts would fly back to their training camp in Star City, Russia.
Mark Vande set a new milestone for the most days spent in space by an American astronaut in a single expedition when he spent 355 days on the International Space Station. After orbiting the Earth 5,680 times and travelling more than 150 million miles, Mark’s 355-day mission will safely conclude. Mark’s total time in orbit increased to 523 days after his second mission.
During a change of command ceremony before the Soyuz departure, Shkaplerov will hand over charge of the station to NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn. On March 29 at 09:45 ET (13:45 BST), the ceremony will be streamed live on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the US space agency’s website.
Expedition 67 will formally commence onboard ISS during undocking. It will include new station Commander Marshburn, NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Kayla Barron, European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov.
Last week, Artemyev, Matveev, and Korsakov flew to the International Space Station. However, with Vladimir Putin’s hostile invasion of Ukraine, tensions between the two historic Cold War opponents increase, jeopardising the nations’ space collaboration.