NASA will broadcast live the return of American astronaut Mark Vande Hei to Earth after a record-breaking 355-day mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Along with Vande Hei, two Russian cosmonauts – Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov – will also touch down in Kazakhstan on March 30 on a Soyuz MS-19 capsule. Soyuz will undock from the Rasvet module on its way to a parachute-assisted landing, NASA said. On March 15, Vande Hee surpassed Scott Kelly’s earlier record of 340 consecutive days in space.
NASA has announced that it will provide live coverage of Vande Hei’s return, from undocking to landing. The schedule is as follows:
- Farewell and hatch closed: March 30 at 9 am IST
- Undocking: March 30 at 12:15 pm IST
- Deorbit: March 30 at 3:45 pm IST
- Landing: March 30 at 4:58 pm IST
Before departing for Earth, Shkaplerov will hand over command of the space station to NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn. The event will also air live on March 29 at 7:15 PM IST.
After landing, all three will separate as per standard crew return practice. Vande Hei will return to his home in Houston, and the astronauts will return to their training base in Star City, Russia, said NASA.
Soon after crossing the record for a stay on the space station, Vande He spoke about his experience during the long mission. In a video shared by ISS Feather TwitterVande Hei said he had an indoor job for about a year and is now looking forward to being outside “no matter what the weather.”
NASA Expexp 66 Flight Engineer, on the International Space Station @Astro_Sabot Answered social media questions on March 10 and reflected on his record-breaking space flight. pic.twitter.com/nTBIKMAUkr
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) 16 March 2022
When asked whether spending time in space has changed his view of Earth, Vande Hei said, “You are actually in space. The only thing that separates you from the vacuum of space is the atmosphere.” The precious thin layer of what we call home.
Vande Hei and Dubrov took off from Earth for the ISS on April 9, 2021. Shkaplerov launched on October 5.