Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine a U.S. astronaut will return to Earth Wednesday in a Russian space capsule.
The landing in Kazakhstan will see Mark Vande Hei complete a 355-day mission during which he will have orbited Earth 5,680 times and traveled over 150 million miles. It will see him break the American record for longest time in orbit.
Vande Hei’s scheduled journey back to Earth in a Russian space capsule alongside two Russian cosmonauts has been the subject of various “stranded in space” stories in the press ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 and the resulting sanctions applied.
Almost all U.S. astronauts are launched to the ISS in a SpaceX Dragon capsule, but Vande Hei launched in a Russian Soyuz capsule before that was routine, so is scheduled to return in one.
What will happen after the landing?
According to NASA, after the landing of the the Soyuz MS-19 crew they will split up with Vande Hei returning to Houston, Texas. The Russian cosmonauts, Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, will fly back to their training base in Star City, Russia.
When to watch
The landing will take place at landing at 7:28 a.m. EDT (which is 5:28 p.m. Kazakhstan time) on Wednesday,March 30, 2022. However, if you want to watch the farewells aboard the ISS then tune-in at 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. Here’s the full schedule from NASA:
- 11:30 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, March 29 – Farewells and hatch closure (at 12 a.m., Wednesday, March 30)
- 2:45 a.m. Wednesday, March 30 – Undocking (at 3:21 a.m.)
- 6:15 a.m. Wednesday, March 30 – Deorbit burn and landing (landing at 7:28 a.m. / 5:28 p.m. Kazakhstan time)
Where to watch
Where will the capsule land?
The Soyuz MS-19 capsule will land on the steppe of Kazakhstan, southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.
At 355 days, his long-duration mission on the ISS has seen Vande Hei break the record for longest single spaceflight by an American astronaut. It was previously held by Scott Kelly —now a Senator for Arizona—who was on the ISS for 340 days in 2016.
Vande Hei, who launched to the ISS from Kazakhstan on April 5, 2021, was making his second trip. He was previously on the ISS for 168 days from September 2017 through February 2018, so his cumulative time in space is now 523 days.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.