Mark Vande Hei, a NASA astronaut, is coming back down after a record-breaking 355 days in space. On Wednesday, Vande Hei and Russian astronauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov will return to Earth on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
After a month of rising geopolitical tensions, NASA has confirmed that it would continue to cooperate closely with Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, on the long-anticipated return of the International Space Station.
At midnight, the crew of the Soyuz spacecraft will say their goodbyes to the rest of the crew and seal the hatch between both the spacecraft and the Rassvet docking module. On Wednesday, the Soyuz is scheduled to detach from the International Space Station and begin its deorbit burn at 6:30 a.m. ET.
The parachute-assisted arrival is scheduled at 7:28 a.m. ET southeast of Dzhezkazgan. All of NASA’s TV channels and its website will broadcast live coverage of the crew’s homecoming.
A Gulfstream plane from Houston will take Vande Hei and the cosmonauts to their training facility in Russia once they land, as has been the case with earlier NASA astronauts.
Studying the effects of lengthy space missions
Scott Kelly’s long-duration trip will help scientists to explore the consequences of long-duration spaceflight on human bodies, like the Twins Study that Kelly and his twin Mark engaged in during Scott’s long-duration voyage NASA believes that the lessons learned from long-duration missions will help the agency better train astronauts for trips to the moon and Mars in the future.
Since this was Vande Hei’s second trip, the total time he spent in orbit is 523 days.
With him on board was a Russian filmmaker and an actress who made the first film shot in space, collaborating with Shkaplerov. In contrast to the other astronauts, Shkaplerov stayed on the space station and completed his 4th mission with 708 days in space.