On 14th September, NASA confirms that one of its astronauts, Mark Vande Hei, will remain on the International Space Station until March 2022. This is setting an American spaceflight length record in the development.
The firm announces that the following had their six-month stays on ISS –
- Mark Vande Hei
- Russian astronaut Pyotr Dubrov
This is with an extension of another six months. The two launched to the station on 9th April on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft along with Oleg Novitskiy.
Normally, the three would have come back together on that spacecraft in October. This is after the launch of a substitute crew on Soyuz MS-19. But Roscosmos announces intentions to send the following to ISS on that spacecraft –
- Director Klim Shipenko
- Actress Yulia Peresild
- Astronaut Anton Shkaplerov
Following will spend almost two weeks on ISS, filming scenes for a movie, prior to returning on Soyuz MS-18 with Novitskiy –
Shkaplerov will continue ISS for a six-month stay, along with the mission extensions of Vande Hei and Dubrov.
As per NASA, Vande Hei and Dubrov would return, with Shkaplerov, in March 2022. While NASA did not give a precise return date, Vande Hei tweets that he is likely to spend approximately 353 days in space. They would break the record for the lengthiest spaceflight by an American astronaut: 340 days, set by Scott Kelly on his “one-year” mission to the ISS in 2015–16.
A prolonged stay, Vande Hei writes, is “a chance that I was ready for from the start. The opportunity to experience this with a wonderful crew while providing to science and potential discovery is exciting!”
Even prior to the launch, Vande Hei says he was mindful of Russian ideas to film a movie on the station in October. “Honestly, for me, it is just a prospect for a new life experience. I have never been in space longer than six months,” he says in a pre-flight interview in March.
Nelson, in his own tweet, presents his appreciation to Vande Hei. “Thank you, Mark, for your commitment to @NASA and study that will make humankind for Artemis missions to the Moon and later to Mars!”