NASA confirms ‘ride’ by American to return to Earth in Russian spacecraft

Mark Vande Hei: the astronaut spent 355 days in space (Photo: Getty Images via BBC News)

Mark Vande Hei: the astronaut spent 355 days in space (Photo: Getty Images via BBC News)

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A US astronaut prepares to return to Earth after fears that his Russian “ride” home might not materialize.

Initially, it was believed that Mark Vande Hei – who has been in space for 355 days – could be left behind on the International Space Station (ISS) due to heightened tensions between the two countries following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. .

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But it has been confirmed that he will travel aboard a Russian capsule to Kazakhstan. He will be brought back to Earth along with two Russian astronauts.

“I can say with certainty that Mark is coming home… We are in communication with our Russian colleagues. There is no doubt about that,” said Joel Montalbano, program manager for the International Space Station at NASAAmerican space agency.

He claimed the astronauts were “aware of what’s going on” in the world, but still work as a team.

Under international space law, astronauts of all nations must “provide all possible assistance” to other astronauts when needed, “including emergency landing in a foreign country or at sea”.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, had previously warned that Western sanctions imposed on his country could cause technical problems for the ISS, but Montalbano said the space station continued to function smoothly.

NASA plans to drop the ISS into the Pacific Ocean in 2031 (Photo: Reuters via BBC News)

NASA plans to drop the ISS into the Pacific Ocean in 2031 (Photo: Reuters via BBC News)

“All these activities have continued for 20 years and nothing has changed in the last three weeks. Our control centers operate successfully, flawlessly, flawlessly,” he said.

The US controls power and life support aboard the ISS, while Russia controls things like its propulsion.

Earlier this month, Rogozin announced on Russian state TV that Roscosmos would stop rocket sales to the US in response to sanctions against Russia.

Meanwhile, Vande Hei, 55, has just set a new American record for the longest time spent in space.

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