NASA confident Russia will bring back U.S. astronaut
March 30, 2022 - A U.S. astronaut is due back from the International Space Station aboard a Russian spacecraft, despite recent scaremongering that he could be stranded over U.S. sanctions against Russia.
American astronaut Mark Vande Hei and two Russian cosmonauts are due to land in Kazakhstan aboard a Soyuz return capsule from the International Space Station (ISS) on March 30.
Recent media stories had suggested Russia might abandon him on the ISS in retaliation for U.S. sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The stories were born from the actions of Director General of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, who shared a video on social media created by state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, showing Russia’s cosmonauts leaving the space station for home, without Vande Hei.
Apparently Rogozin’s post was a “joke”, albeit a tactless one given the worsening relations between the U.S. and Russia.
Assuming Vande Hei returns safely, he will have set a new U.S. record for longevity in space, having spent 353 days aboard the ISS.
Waiting for him will be a team of NASA personnel and physicians (flown in specially from the U.S.) to assist with the long transfer to Houston, where he will start his months-long journey back to health – he has been exposed to space’s microgravity environment since April 2021.