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This NASA Astronaut is Ready to Smash the American Record for Time Spent in Space

When NASA flight engineer Mark T. Vande Hei lifted off on a Russian-built Soyuz rocket for the Expedition 64/65 mission to the International Space Station in April 2021, he was just like any other astronaut. Undeniably in one of the most amazing occupation fields, but not exactly a household name. When he returns in March 2022, he’ll be a permanent member of the history books.
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Vande Hei and fellow crewmember, Roscosmos cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov were recently informed that they were to remain aboard the ISS while the rest of the crew rotates back to Earth in late October. This order ensured Vande Hei would break fellow American Scott Kelly for the longest duration an American has ever spent in space.

According to Vande Hei’s official NASA profile, he was born in Virginia then raised in New Jersey and Minnesota. Vande Hei earned a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Saint John's University and a Master of Science in Applied Physics from Stanford University. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army through the ROTC.
As a combat engineer platoon leader, Vande Hei served in Iraq during Operation Provide Comfort. In 1994, he reported to the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Carson, Colorado. While there, Vande Hei served in the 299th and 4th Engineer Battalions staff and then commanded C Company, 4th Engineer Battalion before his selection to the astronaut corps in 2009.

The veteran astronaut took time to answer questions for NASA’s Youtube channel after the announcement of his record-breaking assignment.
“I think all astronauts are explorers at heart and having the opportunity to contribute to furthering exploration is a great opportunity,” said Vande Hei.  

Vande Hei emphasized that daily meditation, as well as regular communication with his loved ones, were vital components of a successful long-term space mission. The knowledge scientists gain from his extended stay will no doubt go a long way towards the ultimate goal of exploration of the cosmos.

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