NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is back on Earth after a NASA record-breaking 355 days in space.
Vande Hei’s extended mission aboard the International Space Station ended on Wednesday, March 30, after a parachute-assisted landing in Kazakhstan along with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov. He returned to Houston on March 31.
Arriving at the orbiting laboratory in April of last year, Vande Hei’s stay in low-Earth orbit exceeded the previously held record by 15 days. 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 visits to 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)
“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.”
This Week at NASA
Glimpse of an Ancient Star – Our Hubble Space Telescope smashed records by observing the farthest individual star ever detected. The star, nicknamed “Earendel,” is so far away that its light has taken 12.9 billion years to reach Earth, appearing to us as it did when the universe was less than a billion years old.
Otherworldly Sounds – A new study based on recordings made by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover found the speed of sound is slower on the Red Planet than on Earth. Check out our video to hear sounds captured by the rover, including a light Martian wind, the rover’s mechanical whine, the whir of rotors on Ingenuity, and the crackling strike of a rock-zapping laser.
State of NASA Address – Administrator Nelson delivered the annual State of NASA address this week, offering a preview of our plans to explore the Moon and Mars, address climate change, promote racial and economic equity, and drive economic growth while sustaining U.S. leadership in aviation and aerospace innovation.
New Chapter for Space Travel – Axiom Mission 1, the first all-private astronaut mission to the space station, is targeted to launch on Wednesday, April 6, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Tune in for live coverage of the launch on NASA TV, the NASA app, the agency’s website, and our social media channels.
Tracking Our Carbon Footprint – For the first time, scientists were able to detect human-caused changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) during the COVID-19 pandemic using NASA technology. The science opens new possibilities for tracking the collective effects of human activities on CO2 concentrations in near real-time.
Designing the Future – We’ve named two national winners for our Lunabotics Junior Contest: Lucia Grisanti of Toms River, N.J., and Shriya Sawant of Cumming, Ga. The two beat thousands of student-contestants tasked with designing a robot that can dig and move lunar soil, or regolith, across the Moon’s surface.
Final Test for Mega Moon Rocket – Our engineers and technicians are ready to conduct the “wet dress rehearsal” for our upcoming Artemis I mission. The two-day test starts on April 1 when the launch team at Kennedy Space Center arrives at the firing room in the Launch Control Center. Get the latest updates on our Artemis blog, including a list of countdown milestones.
Meet Vanessa Wyche, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
“Mentorship is very important to me. I’m actively mentoring people today because I know the benefit of having been mentored myself… It’s a calling for me, and I feel it’s important to give back.”
The Perseverance Mars rover looks back at its wheel tracks on March 17, 2022, the 381st Martian day, or sol, of the mission.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech