NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei might spend a yr in house after his launch in April — and if that is the case, he’ll welcome the chance, Vande Hei stated Monday (March 15) in his first information convention since NASA announced his flight final week.
Sometimes, astronauts spend about six and a half months on the International Space Station, residing and dealing in orbit. However a separate mission of NASA’s Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, may imply that Vande Hei should stay in house longer earlier than he can catch a journey again to Earth. In that case, that might be simply tremendous with him, he informed reporters in a televised information convention on NASA TV on Monday.
“Actually, for me, it is simply a possibility for a brand new life expertise,” he stated through the information convention, which was held nearly from Star Metropolis, Russia, the place he’s getting ready for flight. “I’ve by no means been in house longer than about six months, so if somebody tells me I received to remain in house for a yr, I am going to discover out what that appears like. I am actually captivated with it.”
Vande Hei has visited the house station as soon as earlier than, flying to and from the orbiting lab on a Russian Soyuz car in 2017 and 2018 to finish a six-month keep; that have made an extended flight interesting, he stated. “On the earlier flight, it felt like daily received slightly bit simpler,” he stated through the information convention. “I used to be extra snug with issues as time went on, I used to be far more conversant in my work.”
Vande Hei has already been embracing probability in the case of his upcoming mission: He discovered subsequent month’s launch was confirmed solely final week, together with the remainder of the world, he stated through the media occasion.
For the previous decade, NASA astronauts have been flying to the Worldwide Area Station on Russian Soyuz capsules in seats that the agency buys from its counterpart, Roscosmos. Now, NASA is starting to launch its astronauts on U.S. industrial automobiles like SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, however it does not wish to cease flying on Soyuz.
To that finish, NASA spent the previous few months rapidly arranging for a seat on the April Soyuz flight, dubbed MS-18, this time by Texas-based house tourism firm Axiom Area fairly than immediately by Roscosmos. In change for the April launch, NASA will fly an astronaut chosen by Axiom on an upcoming industrial flight, seemingly in 2023, in accordance with an agency statement about the arrangements.
An prolonged keep would mark a second irregularity in Vande Hei’s mission, one prompted by scheduling on the aspect of Roscosmos. The company is partnering with a Russian tv channel to movie a film in house, which might require flying two folks to the house station for filming.
Earlier Roscosmos statements have instructed which will happen within the fall. If that schedule holds true, Vande Hei should wait till the subsequent visiting Soyuz — MS-19 — heads for dwelling, fairly than flying again to Earth in the identical car he launched in, as astronauts sometimes do.
“All of it relies upon … on whether or not or not these vacationers go up on the spacecraft within the fall, as a result of they’d take my seat again, so I would have to remain longer to attend for an additional seat,” Vande Hei stated through the information convention.
He did not specify whether or not he’ll know the size of his keep earlier than launch; the final NASA astronaut to conduct an prolonged mission, Christina Koch, discovered of her extension when she was already in orbit. (Koch spent 328 days in house in 2019 and 2020, making her go to the second-longest mission for a U.S. astronaut. Scott Kelly set the present report when he returned from a 340-day mission in 2016.)
“My perspective is I am going again to a job and as a substitute of being a brand new worker that simply confirmed up, I will be any individual who labored there within the lab a pair years in the past,” Vande Hei stated. “I am going to begin off slightly higher than I used to be the primary time and I am going to get to proceed at that job longer, so hopefully I am going to be capable to contribute much more.”
E-mail Meghan Bartels at firstname.lastname@example.org or observe her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Comply with us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Fb.