US Astronaut Confirmed to Travel Back In Russian Capsule Despite Conflict On Earth

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After spending 355 days in space on the International Space Station, the US astronaut Mark Vande Hei will now be returning to Earth; this comes after fears of not being able to find a “lift home” due to the conflict over Russian’s invasion of Ukraine. However, it has recently been confirmed that a Russian capsule will be available for travel, in which the American astronaut Mark Vande Hei and two Russian cosmonauts will be brought back to Earth, arriving at Kazakhstan.

The NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) programme manager, Joel Montalbano, said, “I can tell you for sure Mark is coming home… We are in communication with our Russian colleagues. There’s no fuzz on that.” He admitted that astronauts were “aware of what’s going on”, however, they still work as a team together. “All these activities have continued for 20 years, and nothing has changed in the last three weeks. Our control centres operate successfully, flawlessly, seamlessly,” he added.

According to the International Space Law, astronauts from all nations must “provide all possible help” to other astronauts when needed, “including emergency landing in a foreign country or at sea”. The US oversees controlling the power and life support aboard the International Space Station (ISS), while Russia oversees controlling things like its propulsion.

In other news, the US astronaut Mark Vande Hei, aged 55, has also officially made a new US record for the most time spent in space, which is a huge achievement! He is due to land in Kazakhstan on the 30th of March along with his two Russian cosmonaut colleagues. 

Previously, earlier in March, the Russian government-controlled RIA Novosti posted a video on social media showing the US astronaut being left behind by the Russian cosmonauts on the ISS. This was retweeted by the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, which ended up causing concern for the US astronaut.

Joel Montalbano said, “Are they aware of what’s going on on Earth? Absolutely. But they have been trained to do a job and they continue to do that job.”

Luckily, the US astronaut will be returning home soon, according to Joel Montalbano saying, “I can tell you for sure Mark is coming home on that Soyuz. There’s been some discussions about that, but I can tell you that all of them are coming.”