After setting the record for the longest single spaceflight in history by an American to 355 days, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned to Earth on March 30, 2022, along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov .
The trio departed the International Space Station at 3:21 a.m. EDT and made a safe parachute-assisted landing at 7:28 a.m. southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
“Mark’s mission not only breaks records, but also paves the way for future human explorers to the Moon, Mars and beyond,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “Our astronauts make incredible sacrifices in the name of science, exploration and the development of advanced technologies, including time away from loved ones. NASA and the nation are proud to welcome Mark home and grateful for his incredible contributions throughout his one-year stay on the International Space Station.
Vande Hei’s extended mission will provide researchers with the opportunity to observe the effects of long-duration spaceflight on humans as the agency plans to return to the Moon under the Artemis program and prepare for the exploration of Mars.
Vande Hei was launched on April 9, 2021, alongside Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. His second space trip of 355 days is the longest spaceflight by an American astronaut, previously held at 340 days, and gives him a total of 523 days in space. Dubrov also stayed on board for 355 days during his first spaceflight.
Supporting NASA’s goals for future human Moon landings, Vande Hei completed approximately 5,680 Earth orbits and a journey of more than 150 million miles, or approximately the equivalent of 312 trips to the Moon and back. . It witnessed the arrival of 15 visiting spacecraft and new modules, and the departure of 14 visiting spacecraft.
After medical checks after landing, the crew will return to the recovery town in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, aboard Russian helicopters. Vande Hei will board a NASA plane bound for Cologne, Germany, to refuel before returning home. Shkaplerov and Dubrov will board a plane from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center to return home to Star City, Russia.
During his record-breaking mission, Vande Hei spent many hours on scientific pursuits aboard the space station, conducting everything from plant research to physical science studies.
With the undocking of the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft with Vande Hei, Shkaplerov and Dubrov on board, Expedition 67 officially began aboard the station. NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn recently took over as station commander and is joined by NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Kayla Barron, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov.
Marshburn, Chari, Barron and Maurer will remain on board until the end of April, when NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will launch into the station as part of of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission.
To learn more about space station activities, follow @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and Instagram accounts and the space station blog.