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Bad timing: an American astronaut will return to Earth aboard a Soyuz rocket… and to Russia

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This is called very bad timing. american astronaut Mark T. Vande Hei, which has been on the international space station since April 2021, is due to return to Earth on March 22. On this date, Vande Hei will therefore have spent 353 days in space, i.e. the new duration record for an astronaut in the NASA (the previous record was held by Scott Kellywhich in 2016 had spent 340 days in orbit).

The return to Earth of Mark T. Vande Hei is also likely to make headlines for quite other reasons, because it is aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket that the astronaut must make his return trip. Given the current tensions between the United States and Russia, we could probably not do worse as a calendar. To make matters worse, the Soyuz rocket will of course land on Russian territory. A priori, there would be the possibility that the astronaut would use a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, but on the scheduled return date, SpaceX is in charge of Axiom Space’s private Ax-1 mission.

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Fortunately, Mark T. Vande Hei is a badass who has already participated in no less than 6 space missions – Expedition 65, Expedition 64, Soyuz MS-19, Expedition 53, Expedition 54, Soyuz MS-06 – and who has therefore certainly the full confidence of the Roscosmos staff. As a reminder, just a few days ago, Dmitry Rogozin, the boss of Roscosmos, left the threat of a disengagement of the guidance of the ISS (at Russia’s full responsibility) which would mechanically lead to the crash of the station on Earth.

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