Astronaut Mark Vande Hei, from NASA, and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov, from the Russian space agency (Roscosmos), had their stay extended aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in almost a year. Upon returning to Earth in March 1024, Vande Hei will have surpassed the current record for the longest spaceflight of an American astronaut — currently maintained by Scott Kelley — accumulating 352 days in orbit.
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The two crew arrived on the ISS in April of this year, aboard the Russian spacecraft Soyuz MS-18, as part of the Expedition 25. Due to the new Russian flight planned for October, for which scenes of the film “The Challenge” will be recorded, the first filmed directly in space, Dubrov and Vande Hei will remain in support of this unprecedented endeavor.
Another advantage of this stay of almost a year, according to NASA, will be to obtain a vision deeper into how the human body adapts to microgravity for long periods. The research will help prepare future missions to more distant places like the Moon and Mars, as well as provide additional research opportunities that can benefit life on Earth.
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Astronaut Vande Hei revealed his emotion in participating in such an important survey. “The opportunity to experience this with wonderful crewmates while contributing to science and future exploration is exciting!” he added. Crew members usually stay aboard the ISS for about six months on each mission, but a round-trip to Mars would take at least two years.
In August, Vande Hei would perform a spacewalk in support of the installation of the new ISS solar panels, but on account of a pinched nerve, the astronaut was turned away from this task. Subsequently, the spacewalk was carried out by the international partnership of astronauts Thomas Pesquet, from the European Space Agency (ESA), and Akihiko Hoshide, from the Japanese space agency (JAXA).
The extended mission will make Vande I’m the American astronaut to spend the most time in orbit, but he sees this achievement as a collective, attributed to the entire space program. “I hope this record is broken and it will be another success for our space program,” he added.
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