The original plan for astronaut Mark Vande Hei to land in Kazakhstan with two Russian cosmonauts in a Russian spacecraft is being jeopardized by the ongoing geopolitical conflict.
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei , who holds the current record for the longest space flight, will finish his 355 days in space, precisely at the International Space Station (ISS) in three weeks, but sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine could suspend his return to the planet.
Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian Space Agency and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, responded to the sanctions on the Russian aerospace industry in a series of hostile tweets.
On February 26, he posted a video in Russian that threatened to leave Vande Hei behind in space and completely separate the Russian segment from the space station. Former astronaut Scott Kelly. he said he felt compelled to speak out and got angry at Rogozin on Twitter.
“It infuriated me that he, the [cosmonauts], said they were going to leave an American crew member behind. I never thought I would hear something so outrageous ,” Kelly said.
Russian gov’t-controlled RIA Novosti @rianru posted a video on Telegram made by @Roscosmos where cosmonauts say goodbye to Mark Vande Hei on #ISS, depart, and then the Russian segment detaches from the rest of ISS. @Rogozin is clearly threatening the ISS program. #NASA #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/fj2coK1xR1
— NASA Watch (@NASAWatch) March 5, 2022
Mark Vande Hei, a 55-year-old married father of two from Texas, is scheduled to return to Kazakhstan from the ISS with two Russian cosmonauts aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on March 30 after spending almost a year on board. .
NASA has kept quiet about Rogozin’s threats to abandon Vande Hei in space. Before the conflict in Ukraine, Russia had announced plans to withdraw from the space station starting in 2025.
Vande Hei ‘s mother , Mary, 77, told The Mail on Sunday: “It’s a terrible threat. When I first heard it, I cried a lot. It is very worrying. We’re just praying a lot.’
A geopolitical separation
The ISS is divided into two sections: the Russian Orbital Segment operated by Russia and the United States Orbital Segment managed by American astronauts.
When the US shuttle program ended in 2011, US astronauts like Cady Coleman relied exclusively on Russian rockets to get aboard the station.
NASA issued a statement on civil space cooperation between the United States and Russia , saying “no changes are planned” and that the agency will continue to support “ongoing operations at orbit and ground stations.”