NASA has assigned astronaut Mark Vande Hei to an upcoming mission to the International Space Station as a flight engineer and member of the Expedition 64/65 crew. Vande Hei, along with cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, are scheduled to launch Friday, April 9, on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Vande Hei will participate in a live news conference at 11 a.m. EDT on Monday, March 15, from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, to discuss his mission. The news conference and interviews will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
Vande Hei will work on hundreds of experiments during his mission to benefit life on Earth and learn more about living in space. The space station is a critical testbed for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight and those insights gained will help send humans to the Moon and eventually to Mars. Among the science the crew will conduct during Vande Hei’s mission are studies on cotton root systems and Alzheimer’s disease, and a technology demonstration of a portable ultrasound device.
NASA selected Vande Hei as an astronaut in 2009 and he completed his first spaceflight in 2018 as an Expedition 53/54 crew member. He launched on September 13, 2017, and spent 168 days in space, during which he conducted four spacewalks, totaling 26 hours and 42 minutes, before his return to Earth on February 28, 2018. Highlights from the research his crew conducted include investigations into the manufacturing of fiber optic filaments in microgravity, improving the accuracy of an implantable glucoses biosensor, and measuring the Sun’s energy input to Earth.
Born in Virginia and raised in New Jersey and Minnesota, Vande Hei is a retired colonel in the U.S. Army. He earned a Bachelor of Science in physics from Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and a Master of Science in applied physics from Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. He was commissioned in the Army through the ROTC program and served as a combat engineer. In 1999, he became an assistant professor of physics at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, before his selection as an astronaut.
For more than 20 years, astronauts have continuously lived and worked on the space station, testing technologies, performing science, and developing the skills needed to explore farther from Earth. As a global endeavor, 242 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas. Through NASA’s Artemis program, the agency will send astronauts to the surface of the Moon, with eventual human exploration of Mars. Inspiring the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation – ensures America will continue to lead in space exploration and discovery.