By the time he returns to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz after completing his mission as scheduled on March 30, he will have set a new record for the maximum spaceflight duration of 355 days.

Almost a year in space! A NASA astronaut has spent the exemplary feat of spending 341 consecutive days in space. Mark Vande Hei broke the record set by another former US astronaut Scott Kelly in 2016 to better understand the effects of spaceflight on the human body.

Vande Hei has spent 341 days abroad on the International Space Station since leaving Earth on April 9, 2021. By the time he returns to Earth aboard a Russian Soyuz after completing his mission as scheduled on March 30, he will have set a new record of maximum spaceflight of 355 days.

Who is Colonel Mark Vande Heis

Col Vande Hei, a retired US Army colonel, joined NASA in 2009 and flew as a flight engineer on three previous ISS expeditions. His stint in spaceflight was supposed to end in October, but was extended after a Russian filmmaker and actress reached the space station to shoot parts of the film.

Vande Hei served as leader of the Army’s space support team, then battalion operations officer, and was deployed to Iraq for 12 months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served as an International Space Station CAPCOM for Expeditions 15 to 20 and STS-122, 123, 124, 126 and 127 and then as a technical assistant for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Vande Hei has also served as the chief astronaut’s assistant for extravehicular activity and robotics.

Expected return of Vande Hei from ISS

The US space mission 65 was launched on a Russian spacecraft in April 2021, and two other Russian cosmonauts Soyuz and Vande Hei were sent the lab into orbit for spacewalks, science experiments and station maintenance. But the world changed a lot with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent wave of US sanctions that derailed all space-related cooperation between the Russian space agency and its Western counterpart. But both NASA and the Russian space agency confirmed that Vande Hei will indeed return home without a doubt, despite the tensions between the two countries. Nevertheless, since 2020, NASA has been using SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceships to transport astronauts to and from the ISS.

All Vande Hei becomes the American astronaut with a maximum of consecutive days in space, the largest spacetime of an American is still held by astronaut Peggy Whitson, who accumulated 665 days in space with 10 trips.

The world record for both maximum consecutive and cumulative days in spaceflight also belongs to Russia. Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov flew 437 consecutive days aboard the Russian Mir space station in 1994 and 1995, while Gennady Padalka holds the world record for cumulative days in space at 879, having flown aboard both the Mir and the ISS.

This post New NASA spaceflight record: Astronaut Mark Vande Hei abroad ISS for 341 consecutive days!

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