May 21, 2022

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NASA astronaut back on Earth after record flight

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NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, launched by Russia to the Intercontinental Area Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft final April, returned Wednesday to a earth torn by war in Ukraine and escalating superpower rigidity when he closed out a 355-day stay in orbit, the longest single flight by a U.S. astronaut.

Irrespective of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and a sharp split in East-West place relations — like threatening rhetoric and even a YouTube online video, later on claimed to be a “joke,” suggesting Vande Hei could be left behind aboard the station — the NASA astronaut and two cosmonaut crewmates returned to Earth on Wednesday particularly as planned.

Outgoing Expedition 66 commander Anton Shkaplerov turned the lab more than to NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn on Tuesday in a traditional improve-of-command ceremony marked by hugs and handshakes, with no trace of the discord threatening U.S.-Russian relations on Earth.

Outgoing space station commander Anton Shkaplerov, left, hands a symbolic key to the space station to NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn Tuesday in a traditional change-of-command ceremony. Shkaplerov, cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov (to immediate left of key in background) and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei (to right of key) plan to return to Earth Wednesday. / Credit: NASA TV

Outgoing place station commander Anton Shkaplerov, still left, arms a symbolic important to the space station to NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn Tuesday in a classic modify-of-command ceremony. Shkaplerov, cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov (to rapid still left of vital in background) and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei (to proper of essential) program to return to Earth Wednesday. / Credit: NASA Television

“I’m pretty happy I was the commander of this fantastic crew,” Shkaplerov explained in advance of handing a symbolic “crucial to the area station” above to Marshburn. “Persons have issues on Earth, on orbit we are 1 crew. I consider ISS is (a) symbol of the friendship and cooperation and (the) image of foreseeable future of exploration of room.”

Stated Marshburn: “It is really an honor and a privilege to accept command of the Intercontinental Room Station and continuing that worldwide partnership and that legacy in spaceflight. Want to thank you, you have been a fantastic commander, definitely can not thank you more than enough.”

Right after bidding their 7 station crewmates farewell late Tuesday, Shkaplerov, Vande Hei and flight engineer Pyotr Dubrov strapped into their Soyuz MS-19/65S ferry ship and undocked from the Russian Rassvet module at 3:21 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

Soon after a pause to give Dubrov time to have out a photograph study of the station’s Russian modules, Soyuz commander Shkaplerov monitored an automated de-orbit rocket firing and a fiery plunge back again to Earth, landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan around the city of Dzhezkazgan at 7:28 a.m. Wednesday (5:28 p.m. nearby time).

Soyuz MS-19/65S: Touchdown! At 7:28am EDT (1128 UTC) Russian restoration crews are now moving in to enable the crew out of the cramped capsule as they begin readjusting to the unfamiliar tug of gravity

— William Harwood (@cbs_spacenews) March 30, 2022

Vande Hei and initially-time flier Dubrov logged 355 times 7 hours and 45 minutes off world, covering 5,680 orbits spanning 150.1 million miles. Like an before space station keep in 2017-18, Vande Hei’s whole time in area throughout two missions now stands at 523 times, going him up to third on the list of most-seasoned U.S. astronauts.

Soyuz MS-19/65S: For Mark Vande Hei and Pyotr Dubrov, introduced previous April 9 aboard a unique Soyuz, landing shut out a 355-working day 7-hour 45-moment mission although Shkaplerov, introduced Oct. 5, logged 176 days 2 several hours and 33 minutes aloft

— William Harwood (@cbs_spacenews) March 30, 2022

Requested how he stored a optimistic frame of mind throughout such a extended flight absent from friends and household, Vande Hei mentioned he tried “to spend interest to just the working day that I’m on and not believe about how a lot of days are left.”

“And I’ve been really, quite fortuitous to have excellent crewmates,” he instructed CBS News in a latest house-to-floor interview. “Everybody’s just having alongside fantastically, and it is really been a enjoyment.”

He also designed a point of meditating for 20 minutes each working day in the multi-window cupola compartment, using in amazing views of Earth amid a sea of stars.

Mark Vande Hei enjoys a moment in the multi-window cupola compartment where he likes to mediate each day before going to work. The Soyuz MS-19/65S spacecraft visible out the center window will carry Vande Hei, commander Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov back to Earth early Wednesday. / Credit: NASA

Mark Vande Hei enjoys a minute in the multi-window cupola compartment where by he likes to mediate each individual working day ahead of going to work. The Soyuz MS-19/65S spacecraft noticeable out the centre window will have Vande Hei, commander Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov back to Earth early Wednesday. / Credit score: NASA

“Each early morning, right before everybody else is awake, with all the lights off, I can sit and search for 20 minutes at the stars,” he stated. And I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky to have those people ordeals. … I desire I could come across a superior way to describe it to people today. It really is awe-inspiring each and every time.”

NASA flight surgeons and aid staff flew to Kazakhstan aboard a NASA jet previous Friday and have been on hand at the Soyuz landing web-site to welcome Vande Hei house and to carry out first health-related checks as he began readjusting to gravity following just about a full calendar year in weightlessness.

Vande Hei and his support crew will fly back to the Johnson House Center in Houston shortly immediately after landing while Shkaplerov and Dubrov board a Russian plane for a flight to the cosmonaut training middle in Star Town around Moscow.

Struggling with months of bodily rehabilitation to get back his “land legs,” Vande Hei explained to a NASA interviewer previous 7 days he was particularly seeking forward to “generating a cup of espresso for my spouse and myself and then sitting down in bed and speaking to each other although we are either looking through or catching up on the news.”

“Just possessing stress-free Saturday mornings is a superb matter,” he said. “And then following that, I would most likely say guacamole and chips.”

Dubrov and Vande Hei ended up introduced from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a different Soyuz on April 9, 2021, signing up for spacecraft commander Oleg Novitskiy. When they took off, Vande Hei and Dubrov did not know how extensive their keep in house could possibly past due to the fact of uncertainty about the Russian start sequence.

“I failed to know with certainty that the flight would be this prolonged,” he told CBS News. “But I certainly understood that it was a chance, and I created confident my family was knowledgeable of that. And they all agreed that I should really even now say indeed. So no, I didn’t have any second views. I felt like it was an prospect to fill a require that we had, and I was really joyful to be capable to fill it.”

Previous Oct, Russia introduced a Soyuz carrying Shkaplerov, a Russian actress and her director to shoot scenes for a film aboard the space station. The actress and director took the seats that ordinarily would have been out there to carry Dubrov and Vande Hei back to Earth immediately after a six-thirty day period remain in place.

Novitskiy ferried both of them dwelling final Oct, leaving Shkaplerov driving to carry Dubrov and Vande Hei again to Earth this 7 days following just about a entire yr in area. Mission length for Shkaplerov will stand at 176 days.

The International Space Station as seen from below by astronauts aboard a departing Crew Dragon spacecraft. / Credit: NASA

The Worldwide Room Station as observed from under by astronauts aboard a departing Crew Dragon spacecraft. / Credit rating: NASA

Various Russian cosmonauts have logged flights long lasting additional than a year — the globe document is 437 times 17 hours — but Vande Hei’s 355-working day mark sets a new single-flight history for U.S. astronauts, eclipsing Scott Kelly’s 340-working day mark and Christina Koch’s 328-day stay aboard the station, the globe report for a feminine.

“I believe it is wonderful,” Kelly claimed in a modern phone job interview with CBS Information. “What’s the saying, data are manufactured to be damaged? And that indicates we are accomplishing issues better than we did it before. So yeah, congratulations to him.”

As for his viewpoint, Vande Hei reported “I you should not feel it’s a report that I would even attribute to me, it truly is a report for our place software.”

“I have a huge quantity of regard for Scott and Christina, both,” he reported in a NASA job interview. “And I know they would both of those be incredibly satisfied, as the explorers that they are, to see that we are furthering exploration, we are obtaining men and women into space for for a longer period and more time durations of time.”

“I expect this file to be broken, and that will be a further results for our area plan,” he extra.

But that report will not be broken by Vande Hei. He told his spouse just before launch the existing mission would be his past.

“This will be the close of a phase of my existence,” he explained. “I promised my spouse I will not be flying to area once more. So that will be bittersweet. I am quite, very grateful to have had this astounding chance to occur up to the place station, to be up in this article with these superb people today who I will consider mates for the rest of my existence, to serve my state and all of humanity.”

“So there’ll be gratitude for that, enthusiasm for the long run and a very little bit of disappointment, far too, mainly because I will be shutting the doorway on that, I will never be in a position to occur back again,” he included. “And this is a very, incredibly special spot.”

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