There were doubts about Mark Vande Hei returning to earth aboard a Russian ship despite the Ukraine invasion and strained relationship between the US and Russia.
Mark Vande Hei is an American astronaut, who holds the record for the longest continuous stay in space by an American. He had been on the International Space Station (ISS) since April 2021 and surpassed the standard 6-month stay because of some flight changes.
His return to earth has been a subject of controversy given the recent changes in world politics. When Hei left in April on a Russian space shuttle, we were not on the brink of a war in Europe. However, a lot has happened since then.
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The recent developments birthed several speculations that the astronaut may be left on the ISS and will have to seek another ride home. This is fueled by the fact that an edited viral video from Russian state news program RIA Novosti showed Mark Vande Hei’s colleagues – Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov – abandoning him.
Although the platform called the video a joke, it had caused concerns because several news outlets took it seriously. Especially because Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, also shared the video.
However, to put the matter to bed, NASA released a message of reassurance that all three astronauts were coming home together aboard a Russian Soyuz. In addition, the ISS crew have repeatedly assured the rest of the world that earthly problems do not affect their relationship in space.
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