Despite sanctions, US astronaut returns to Earth with Russian cosmonauts
Mark Vande Hei returns to Earth with Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov after 355 days in space, a US record.
After a US record of 355 days at the International Space Station, a NASA astronaut boarded a Russian spacecraft on Wednesday to return to Earth with two cosmonauts.
Mark Vande Hei arrived in Kazakhstan in a Soyuz capsule alongside Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov of the Russian Orbit Agency, who had both spent the previous year in space.
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Despite rising tensions between the United States and Russia over the war in Ukraine, Vande Hei's return followed standard protocol. A small Nasa crew of physicians and other personnel were on hand for the touchdown and intended to return to Houston with the 55-year-old astronaut promptly.
Tensions were palpable in other regions of space, resulting in the suspension of European satellite launches on Russian rockets and the Europe-Russia Mars rover remaining stranded on Earth for another two years.
Just one day after the start of the Russian operation in Ukraine, Dmitry Rogozin, the director-general of Russia’s space agency, accused the US of trying to “destroy” cooperation at the ISS with its string of sanctions.