NASA Astronaut Sets Record for Longest Single Spaceflight

Mark Vande Hei returned to Earth alongside two Russian cosmonauts early Wednesday morning after nearly a year in space.

NASA Astronaut Vande Hei spent 355 consecutive days in space. [Courtesy: NASA]

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned from the International Space Station Wednesday morning, setting the record for longest single spaceflight in history.

Vande Hei spent 355 consecutive days in space, increasing his lifetime total to 523 days.

Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov joined Vande Hei’s return, making a parachute-assisted landing near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 3:21 a.m. ET.

"Mark's mission is not only record-breaking, but also paving the way for future human explorers on the Moon, Mars, and beyond," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "Our astronauts make incredible sacrifices in the name of science, exploration, and cutting-edge technology development, not least among them time away from loved ones. 

“NASA and the nation are proud to welcome Mark home and grateful for his incredible contributions throughout his year-long stay on the International Space Station."

Vande Hei launched to the ISS on April 9, 2021 with Dubrov and cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy. According to NASA, Vande Hei completed nearly 5,680 orbits around the Earth, traveling more than 150 million miles—equivalent to 312 trips to the Moon and back.

Despite ongoing tensions between the U.S. and Russia, all three returning travelers are set to travel to the recovery staging city of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, onboard Russian helicopters. From there, Vande Hei will stop in Cologne, Germany, before returning home onboard a NASA plane.

NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn now serves as the ISS station commander, working alongside fellow astronauts Raja Chari and Kayla Barron, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov.

Marshburn, Chari, Barron, and Maurer will continue work on the ISS until late April. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will take their places as part of the SpaceX Crew-4 mission.

Jeremy attained his bachelor's in journalism and emerging media from Kennesaw State University. He also served in the Georgia Air National Guard as a C-130 Crew Chief for six years, holding an associate in aircraft maintenance technology.
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