Record Breaking NASA Astronaut to Return to Earth on Wednesday Aboard Russian Soyuz as Private Mission to ISS Looms

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei studies cotton genetics for the Plant Habitat-5 space agriculture experiment. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Three Expedition 66 Flight Engineers are returning to Earth in less than two days as four private astronauts prepare for their mission to the International Space Station. The crew activities haven’t stopped the ongoing space research as the orbital residents studied biology, botany, and physics on Monday.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is nearing the end of his mission as he prepares to return to Earth on Wednesday after a NASA-record breaking 355 days in space. Soyuz Commander Anton Shkaplerov will lead Vande Hei and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov inside the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship when they undock from the Rassvet module at 3:21 a.m. EDT on Wednesday. The trio will parachute to a landing just over four hours later.

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NASA to Provide Live Coverage of Record-Setting US Astronaut Return

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei studies cotton genetics for the Plant Habitat-5 space agriculture experiment. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and two Roscosmos cosmonauts are scheduled to end their mission aboard the International Space Station and return to Earth on Wednesday, March 30.

Vande Hei, along with Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, will close the hatch to the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft to begin the journey back to Earth. The Soyuz will undock from the Rassvet module, heading for a parachute-assisted landing Wednesday, March 30, on the steppe of Kazakhstan, southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.

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Russian Cosmonauts Enter Space Station Wearing Flight Suits with Colors Similar to Ukraine Flag

Soyuz MS-21 crew members aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos webcast)

A three man crew of Russian cosmonauts entered the International Space station today wearing bright yellow flight suits with blue trim — colors very similar to those used on the flag of Ukraine, which Russia invaded last month.

Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov arrived at the station on the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft at 3:12 p.m. EDT. They were launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

It’s possible they are protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine. In which case, they are extremely brave. Or it might just be a giant coincidence. They might have chosen these colors — which have been used on the station before — months earlier.

The cosmonauts joined Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer.

On March 30, a Soyuz spacecraft will return as scheduled carrying hkaplerov, Dubrov and Vande Hei back to Earth. Upon their return, Vande Hei will hold the American record for the longest single human spaceflight mission of 355 days.

NASA to Air Briefing, Spacewalks to Upgrade Space Station

Spacewalkers Victor Glover and Kate Rubins are pictured at the mast canister, installing bracket support struts to the base of the solar array on Feb, 28th 2021. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Crew members from International Space Station Expedition 66 will conduct two spacewalks Tuesday, March 15, and Wednesday, March 23, to continue upgrades to the orbiting laboratory.

NASA will discuss the upcoming spacewalks during a news conference at 2 p.m. EDT Monday, March 14. Live coverage of the news conference and spacewalks will air on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

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Cygnus Installed to Station for Cargo Transfers

ISS configuration after arrival of Northrop Grumman CRS-17 supply ship. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft installation on the International Space Station is now complete. Cygnus launched atop an Antares rocket at 12:40 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 19 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. At about 4:44 a.m., NASA astronaut Raja Chari, along with NASA astronaut Kayla Barron as backup, captured Cygnus, carrying 8,300 pounds of research, hardware, and science experiments to the International Space Station.

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NASA Sets Coverage, Opens Virtual Experience for Next Cargo Launch

A Northrop Grumman Antares rocket carrying a Cygnus resupply spacecraft launches from Pad-0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Northrop Grumman’s 16th contracted cargo resupply mission with NASA will deliver nearly 8,200 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the International Space Station and its crew. (Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

WALLOPS, Va. (NASA PR) — NASA and commercial cargo provider Northrop Grumman are targeting 12:40 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 19, for the launch of the company’s 17th resupply mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.

Live launch coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as YouTubeTwitterFacebook, and NASA’s App, beginning at 12:15 p.m.

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NASA Investigating Lagging Parachute Deployment on Two Dragon Spacecraft

One of four main parachutes on the Crew Dragon spacecraft inflated 75 seconds after the other three during the return of Crew-2 astronauts on Nov. 8, 2021. (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA said it is investigating the lagging deployment of one of four main parachutes on two recent SpaceX Dragon flights, but the space agency does not believe the problem poses a safety threat to astronauts.

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Astronaut Hits 300 Days in Space, On Way to Break NASA Record

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei studies cotton genetics for the Plant Habitat-5 space agriculture experiment. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei has lived in space continuously for 300 days since launching and docking to the orbiting lab on April 9, 2021. He is on his way to surpassing Christina Koch’s 328-day mission on March 3 and Scott Kelly’s 340 days on March 15. Vande Hei will return to Earth on March 30 with a NASA astronaut record-breaking 355 consecutive days in Earth orbit.

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NASA’s 2021 Achievements Included Mars Landing, First Flight, Artemis, More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2021, NASA completed its busiest year of development yet in low-Earth orbit, made history on Mars, continued to make progress on its Artemis plans for the Moon, tested new technologies for a supersonic aircraft, finalized launch preparations for the next-generation space telescope, and much more – all while safely operating during a pandemic and welcoming new leadership under the Biden-Harris Administration.

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Happy Holidays Video from Space Station Crew

Video Caption: Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 66 Flight Engineers Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron of NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Matthias Maurer shared their thoughts about spending the holiday season in orbit and the traditions they look forward to during a downlink recorded Dec.15.

Vande Hei is in the midst of a year-long mission on the station, while Chari, Marshburn, Barron and Maurer arrived on the complex Nov. 11 for a planned six-month mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions as part of NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration approach, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program.

Cargo Dragon Docks to Station with Brand New Science

The space station is viewed from the SpaceX Cargo Dragon during its automated approach before docking. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — While the International Space Station was traveling more than 260 miles over the South Pacific Ocean, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the space-facing side of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module at 3:41 a.m. EST, Wednesday, Dec. 22. NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn were monitoring docking operations for Dragon.

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Japanese Billionaire Arrives at International Space Station

Soyuz MS-20 on approach to the International Space Station. (Credit: Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and spaceflight participants Yusaku Maezawa and Yozo Hirano on the Soyuz MS-20 spacecraft docked to the International Space Station at 8:40 a.m. EST while the station was traveling 260 miles over the Atlantic Ocean. Coverage of hatch opening and welcome remarks will air at 10:15 a.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

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NASA to Provide Live Coverage of Billionaire’s Blastoff to the International Space Station

Spaceflight participant Yozo Hiro, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin and spaceflight participant Yusaku Maezawa. (Credit: Roscosmos)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will provide live coverage of key events in the mission of a veteran Russian cosmonaut and two Japanese private citizens set to launch to the International Space Station on Wednesday, Dec. 8, and return to Earth on Sunday, Dec. 19.

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A Thanksgiving Message from the International Space Station

Video Caption: Aboard the International Space Station, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer shared their thoughts about spending Thanksgiving in orbit and the foods they plan to enjoy.

Vande Hei is in the midst of a year-long mission, while Chari, Marshburn, Barron and Maurer arrived on the space station Nov. 11 for a planned six-month mission. Together, they’re living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human spaceflight missions.

Crew-3 Arrives at International Space Station

The Expedition 66 crew poses for a photo after SpaceX Crew-3’s arrival to station. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Running more than 30 minutes ahead of schedule, the SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts docked to the International Space Station at 6:32 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 11, less than 24 hours after launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer opened the hatch of their Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance at 8:25 p.m. and participated in a welcome ceremony with their new Expedition 66 crewmates at 9 p.m.

On board to welcome them were fellow astronaut Mark Vande Hei, Expedition 66 Commander Anton Shkaplerov and Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos. Joining the welcome ceremony from Earth were Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations, NASA and Josef Aschbacher, ESA director-general.

The newest crew to the microgravity laboratory is the agency’s third crew rotation mission with SpaceX and will remain on board until April 2022 as a part of Expedition 66.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.