Explained | Who is Mark Vande Hei, the NASA astronaut who returned to the earth after 355 days?

With all his spaceflights, Mark Vande Hei has now spent a total of 523 days in space.

With all his spaceflights, Mark Vande Hei has now spent a total of 523 days in space.

The story so far: Astronaut Mark Vande Hei of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) returned to Earth on March 30 after spending 355 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS), setting a record for the longest single spaceflight in history. history by an American.

Mr Vande Hei was on board the ISS along with Russian cosmonauts at a time when US-Russia relations are particularly tense due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military operation in Ukraine. Speaking to the press about his relationship with his Russian colleagues on the ISS during the crisis, Mr Vande Hei said the atmosphere at the station remained positive despite mounting tensions between the US and Russia. “Concerning my relationship with my Russian crew members, they were, are and remain very dear friends of mine,” he said at a press conference. “We supported each other in everything. And I have never worried about my ability to continue working with them,” added Mr. Vande Hei.

What is the military and NASA experience of Mark Vande Hei?

Prior to joining NASA, Mr. Vande Hai served in the United States Army and was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). While in the military, he held a variety of positions including platoon leader, combat engineer, platoon leader, heavy engineer, and cold weather training officer. He served in Iraq as a platoon leader of combat engineers during Operation Provide Comfort.

After receiving his Master of Science degree and a subsequent stint as an associate professor, Mr. Vande Hei in 2003 to the Army’s 1st Space Battalion at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. In Colorado, he first served as an army space support team leader and was deployed to Iraq for 12 months as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Vande Hei’s rendezvous with NASA began in 2006 when he reported to the Johnson Space Center in July 2006 to serve as Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) at Mission Control Center, Houston. After serving on a number of missions as ISS CAPCOM, Mr. Vande Hei was selected to NASA’s 20th astronaut class in 2009.

In 2017, Mr. Vande Hei was selected to be part of an expedition to the ISS. During his first space flight, he spent 168 days in space. In April 2021, the astronaut went into space with two other cosmonauts from the Russian Space Agency for his second flight to the ISS. Vande Hei returned to Earth on March 30, setting the record for the longest single spaceflight by an American astronaut.

With all his space flights, Mr. Vande Hei has now spent a total of 523 days in space.

What has been accomplished in 355 days in space?

During his spaceflight, Mr. Vande Hei completed about 5,680 orbits around the Earth, covering a distance equivalent to about 312 orbits to the moon. Fifteen spacecraft or modules visited the ISS during the astronaut’s time there.

Mr. Vande Hei’s spaceflight provided researchers with the opportunity to study the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body. This matters because NASA plans to send astronauts to the moon with its Artemis program and is also preparing for human exploration of Mars.

The astronaut also participated in multiple science experiments on the ISS, including those on kidney health, fire safety and muscle loss. He also took part in a spacewalk to install new solar panels outside the station.

What was the previous record?

Before the achievement of Mr. Vande Hei astronaut Scott Kelly held the record for the longest single space flight by an American astronaut. Kelly spent 340 days in space and returned to Earth in 2016.

(With input from agencies)

SOURCE – www.thehindu.com

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