NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei has tied the American record for consecutive days in space, marking his 340th day aboard the International Space Station since leaving Earth on April 9, 2021.
It will go on to set a new American record of 355 days by the time it returns to Earth as scheduled on March 30.
The previous American record holder, former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, flew 340 days aboard the ISS until March 1, 2016.
A retired US Army colonel, Colonel Vande Hei joined the NASA Astronaut Corps in 2009 and flew as a flight engineer on three previous expeditions to the ISS.
He was originally scheduled to return to Earth in October, but his mission was expanded to make room for a Russian filmmaker and actress shooting parts of a movie on the space station.
Relations between Russia, the US and much of the world have changed dramatically since Colonel Vande Hei launched into space nearly a year ago, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent wave of Western sanctions that have put an end to almost all space. related cooperation between Russia’s space agency and its Western counterparts.
Colonel Vande Hei’s return journey on March 30 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft along with two Russian cosmonauts, both NASA and the Russian space agency made statements on Tuesday stating that Colonel Vande Hei would not stay in the air without a return ticket despite tensions between their respective countries.
While Colonel Vande Hei will set the new US record for consecutive days in space, the US record for total time in space remains in the hands of astronaut Peggy Whitson, who amassed 665 days in space.
However, the world records for consecutive and accumulated days in space belong to Russian cosmonauts.
Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov flew for 437 consecutive days aboard the Russian space station Mir in 1994 and 1995, while Gennady Padalka holds the world record for cumulative days in space with 879, having flown aboard both Mir and ISS. ISS.