Record-setting Nasa astronaut returns from space station

Mark Vande Hei (in white) is carried to a medical tent shortly after landing in Kazakhstan on March 30, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN (REUTERS, XINHUA) After breaking the American space-endurance record, Nasa astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned to earth from the International Space Station on Wednesday (March 30) with two Russian crewmates.

He has spent 355 days in orbit, surpassing the previous 340-day record set by astronaut Scott Kelly in 2016, according to Nasa.

The trio made a safe, parachute-assisted landing at 7.28 am EDT (7.28pm, Singapore time) south-east of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, according to Nasa

"Mark's mission is not only record-breaking, but also paving the way for future human explorers on the Moon, Mars, and beyond," said Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson.

Mr Vande Hei's extended mission will provide researchers the opportunity to observe the effects of long-duration spaceflight on humans as the agency plans to return to the Moon under the Artemis programme and prepare for exploration of Mars, according to Nasa.

Mr Vande Hei, 55, smiled and waved as rescuers removed him from the capsule and medics checked his vital signs.

The all-time record for the longest single stay in space was set by Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who spent more than 14 months aboard the Mir space station, returning to Earth in 1995.

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