An American astronaut had found himself in a perilous situation miles above the Earth. Mark Vande Hei is supposed to return to Earth on a Russian spacecraft, but between the war with Ukraine and U.S. sanctions, Vande Hei may not have a ride home.
For the past 24 years, the U.S. and Russia have worked together to construct and maintain the International Space Station, where research has led to some of the most important discoveries of the 21st century.
Now, 227 miles below the unrivaled laboratory, Russia has waged a war in Ukraine that’s pitted the country against the U.S. and its allies — leaving the future of the ISS in question.
I mean, he could jump out of the ISS and float gently back to Earth, right? Right??
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who holds the ongoing record for longest space flight, is set to end his 355 days in space in just three weeks. The plan is for him to land in Kazakhstan with two Russian cosmonauts on a Russian spacecraft.
But unprecedented sanctions against Russia could put Vande Hei’s return on hold. After Russia invaded Ukraine nearly two weeks ago, President Joe Biden announced new sanctions, including cutting more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports.
One would hope NASA has a contingency plan, but my intuition is telling me they have no idea how they’re going to get this astronaut down to Earth.