NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei ended his record-breaking time on the International Space Station with a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan, southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, at 7:28 a.m. EDT (5:28 p.m. Kazakhstan time). Vande Hei, along with Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, began the journey back to Earth in the early morning hours on the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft.
Vande Hei arrived at the International Space Station on April 9, 2021, spending 355 days in low-Earth orbit, breaking the previous record held by retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly by 15 days.
“Mark’s mission is not only record-breaking, but also paving the way for future human explorers on the Moon, Mars, and beyond,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Our astronauts make incredible sacrifices in the name of science, exploration, and cutting-edge technology development, not least among them time away from loved ones. NASA and the nation are proud to welcome Mark home and grateful for his incredible contributions throughout his year-long stay on the International Space Station.”
During his 355 days aboard the station, Vande Hei experienced:
- Approximately 5,680 orbits of Earth
- Approximately 150,619,530 statute miles traveled (equivalent of approximately 312 round trips to the Moon and back)
- Fifteen spacecraft or modules visited the International Space Station, including three Russian Progress cargo ships, two Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft, three Russian Soyuz, two SpaceX crew Dragons, three SpaceX cargo Dragons, and the two new Russian modules (the Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module and the Prichal Node Module).
Expedition 67 formally began aboard the station after undocking, with new station Commander Tom Marshburn, NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Kayla Barron, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov.
The Soyuz MS-19 crew will now split up, as per standard crew return practice, with Vande Hei returning to his home in Houston, while the cosmonauts fly back to their training base in Star City, Russia.