NASA astronaut, Russian cosmonauts prepare to land in Kazakhstan
(CNN) — After a record-breaking 355 days spent in space, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is returning to Earth. Vande Hei will land aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on the steppe of Kazakhstan alongside Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov on Wednesday.
It’s a highly anticipated return that has only drawn more attention due to mounting geopolitical tensions over the last month, and NASA has repeatedly reaffirmed that it continues to work closely with Russian space agency Roscosmos.
The trio will say their farewells to the remaining space station crew and close the hatch between the Soyuz and the Rassvet docking module around midnight. The Soyuz is expected to undock at 3:21 a.m. ET Wednesday, and the spacecraft will experience its deorbit burn at 6:30 a.m. ET Wednesday.
The crew is expected to make their parachute-assisted landing at 7:28 a.m. ET southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan.
Each step of the crew’s return will stream live on NASA’s TV channel and website.
From left to right: Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Russian cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov.
After landing, Vande Hei will travel back to Houston aboard a Gulfstream jet, as other NASA astronauts have done before, and the cosmonauts will return to their training base in Star City, Russia.