After extending the record for the longest single spaceflight in history by an American to 355 days, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned from the International Space Station to Earth along with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov.
The Russian Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft carrying the trio made a safe, parachute-assisted landing southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday.
Following post-landing medical checks, the crew will return to the recovery staging city in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, aboard Russian helicopters, NASA said in a press release. Vande Hei will board a NASA plane bound for Cologne, Germany, for refueling prior to his return home. Shkaplerov and Dubrov will board a Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center aircraft to return to their home in Star City, Russia.
Vande Hei’s extended mission will provide researchers the opportunity to observe the effects of long-duration spaceflight on humans as NASA plans to return humans to the Moon and prepare for exploration of Mars.
Vande Hei launched to the International Space Station on April 9, 2021, alongside Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. His second journey into space of 355 days is the longest single spaceflight by a U.S. astronaut and gives him a lifetime total of 523 days in space. Dubrov also remained onboard for 355 days on his first spaceflight.
Supporting NASA’s goals for future human landings on the Moon, Vande Hei completed approximately 5,680 orbits of the Earth and a journey of more than 150 million miles, roughly the equivalent of 312 trips to the Moon and back. He witnessed the arrival of 15 visiting spacecraft and new modules, and the departure of 14 visiting spacecraft.
During his record mission, Vande Hei spent many hours on scientific activities aboard the space station, including plant research and physical sciences studies.
With Vande Hei, Shkaplerov, and Dubrov leaving the space stataion, Expedition 67 officially took over their mission. NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn is the Station Commander of Expedition 67. Raja Chari and Kayla Barron (NASA), Matthias Maurer (European Space Agency), and Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov (Russia) are the other members on board.
Marshburn, Chari, Barron and Maurer will remain onboard until late April, when NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti launch to the station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission.
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