How to Watch a NASA Astronaut’s Return to Earth Tonight

Late on Tuesday evening, Mark Vande Hei, like many NASA astronauts before him, will enter a Russian spacecraft docked at the International Space Station for the return trip to Earth.

The space station, orbiting about 250 miles above the surface, is one of the few places where day-to-day cooperation between the United States Russia continues despite the disruption of diplomatic economic ties because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

About eight hours later, Mr. Vande Hei two Russian astronauts, Anton Shkaplerov Pyotr Dubrov, are to bump to a landing in Kazakhstan, met by NASA Russian personnel.

“Like we’ve always done,” Joel Montalbano, the space station program manager for NASA, said during a news conference a couple of weeks ago.

The departure will begin at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time when Mr. Vande Hei, Mr. Shkaplerov Mr. Dubrov say their farewells to the other seven astronauts still aboard the station. At midnight on Wednesday, they are to close the hatch of the Soyuz spacecraft that will carry them home.

NASA will stream the hatch closure other parts of the departure return on its website on YouTube.

President Biden has harshly condemned President Vladimir V. Putin, the United States government has placed a wide range of sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, including some related to aerospace technologies. But cooperation in orbit has continued.

That is despite bellicose statements from Dmitry Rogozin, who leads the Russian space program. He shared a video that suggested the Russians might leave Mr. Vande Hei behind. NASA officials have carefully sidestepped what Mr. Rogozin has said insisted that nothing has changed.

“For the safety of our astronauts, the working relationship between NASA our international partners continues,” Bill Nelson, the NASA administrator, said during his State of NASA speech on Monday. “And that includes the professional relationship between the cosmonauts our astronauts.”

Other relationships in space have not been spared. The European Space Agency postponed a rover mission to Mars because it relied on a Russian rocket. And a British satellite internet company, OneWeb, canceled a series of launches that used Russia’s Soyuz rockets, shifting some of them to SpaceX rockets.

Many American government officials have been brought home from Russia because of the invasion of Ukraine. But a usual NASA contingent of flight doctors, public affairs officials representatives from the astronaut office the space station management will be there to meet Mr. Vande Hei when he lands.

“No deviation from previous Soyuz landing return plans,” said Gary Jordan, a NASA spokesman.

After initial medical checks, the astronauts will rest for a while in tents before traveling by helicopter to the airport where Mr. Vande Hei his NASA colleagues will board a Gulfstream jet take off.

Mr. Jordan said a NASA podcast episode that described an earlier return was “an accurate depiction of the sequence of events that should be expected.”

About 24 hours after landing in Kazakhstan, Mr. Vande Hei will back in Houston.

The landing will end nearly a year in space for Mr. Vande Hei. His stay of 355 days is the longest single spaceflight by an American. That passed the mark of 340 days set by Scott Kelly six years ago.

“The last day is different,” Mr. Kelly recalled about the end of his space journey in an interview.

The final chores included cleaning up his area for the next astronaut, throwing away unneeded items getting in touch with friends family about plans back on the ground.

Source link