US Astronaut, 2 Russian Cosmonauts Return to Earth on Shared Soyuz Ride

A US astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts left the Worldwide House Station (ISS) collectively on a Soyuz capsule as they headed again to Earth on Wednesday, regardless of heightened US-Russian antagonism over the conflict in Ukraine.

The Russian Soyuz capsule carrying NASA’s Mark Vande Hei and his cosmonaut friends Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov efficiently undocked from the ISS and is about to make a parachute touchdown in central Kazakhstan at 1128 GMT, in accordance to Russian area company Roscosmos.

The joint US-Russian return flight from ISS is being carefully watched for indicators that escalating strife between Moscow and Washington over the Russian invasion of Ukraine have spilled over into long-time cooperation in area between the 2 former Chilly Warfare adversaries.

Vande Hei, who at 55 is finishing his second ISS mission, could have logged a US space-endurance document of 355 consecutive days in orbit, surpassing the earlier 340-day document set by astronaut Scott Kelly in 2016, in accordance to NASA.

The all-time document for longest single keep in area was set by Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov who spent greater than 14 months aboard the Mir area station, returning to Earth in 1995.

Dubrov, 40, who launched to the ISS with Vande Hei final April from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, shall be finishing his first spaceflight, sharing 5,680 Earth orbits and greater than 150 million miles in area with Vande Hei, NASA stated.

Shkaplerov, 50, simply ending his rotation as the most recent ISS commander, is a veteran of 4 missions to the orbital outpost, accumulating 708 whole days in area, far exceeding Vande Hei’s 523-day profession tally, in accordance to NASA. Shkaplerov started his newest area station stint final October.

House relations examined

Asserting US financial sanctions in opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authorities on Feb. 24, US President Joe Biden ordered high-tech export restrictions in opposition to Russia that he stated had been designed to “degrade” its aerospace business, together with its area program.

Dmitry Rogozin, director-general of Roscosmos, then lashed out in a collection of Twitter posts suggesting the US sanctions might “destroy” ISS teamwork and lead to the area station falling out of orbit.

The next week, state-run Russian information company RIA Novosti posted a video spoof depicting cosmonauts waving farewell to Vande Hei earlier than Russia’s ISS module detaches from the area station and flies away with out him to the applause of Russian officers at mission management, leaving the remainder of the station sinking decrease in orbit.

The clip, described by RIA Novosti as “comic,” performs out to the Russian-language love ballad “Goodbye,” by Russian vocalist Lev Leshchenko.

At about the identical time, Rogozin introduced that Russia would cease supplying or servicing Russian-made rocket engines utilized by two US aerospace NASA suppliers, suggesting US astronauts might use “broomsticks” to get to orbit.

NASA, for its half, has stated that US and Russian ISS crew members had been nicely conscious of occasions on Earth however are working professionally collectively with out stress.

The three returning ISS crew had been changed on the area station by three cosmonauts who flew to orbit on March 18, becoming a member of the three remaining US colleagues of Vande Hei and a German astronaut from the European Space Agency.

Russia’s area company later dismissed Western media experiences suggesting the newly arrived Russian cosmonauts had chosen to put on yellow flight fits with blue trim – the colors of Ukraine’s nationwide flag, in help of Ukraine. They had been greeted warmly, with hugs and handshakes.

“Sometimes yellow is just yellow,” Roscosmos‘ press service stated on its Telegram channel.

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