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US astronaut to ride Russian spacecraft home during tensions

Delayed Spacewalk
Posted at 1:02 PM, Mar 14, 2022

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A U.S. astronaut has made it through nearly a year in space but faces what could be his trickiest assignment yet: riding a Russian capsule back to Earth.

NASA insists Mark Vande Hei's homecoming plans at the end of the month remain unchanged in the midst of deepening tensions between the countries.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has already resulted in canceled launches and broken contracts.

Vande Hei on Tuesday will break the U.S. single spaceflight record of 340 days. He arrived at the space station in April 2021 aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-18 crew ship. By the time he returns on March 30, he'll have logged 355 days in orbit.

Vande Hei broke Scott Kelly's previous record of 340 days in space.

Vande Hei will help NASA prepare for future missions to the moon upon his return.