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An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts have landed on earth in a Russian spacecraft despite increasing tensions between Russia and the United States over the conflict in Ukraine.
The landing happened as originally scheduled, though some questioned whether it was going to happen at all due to the tense political climate between the two countries.
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, along with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, made a successful parachute-assisted landing in Kazakhstan using a Russian Soyuz capsule.
Watch a recording of today’s landing here:
The capsule undocked from the International Space Station on Wednesday, March 30 at 2:45 a.m. Eastern Time and landed at 7:28 a.m. Eastern Time.
Vande Hei spent 355 days in orbit, beating out the previous 340-day US space-endurance record set by NASA astronaut Scott Kelly in 2016.
“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 in a statement.
Shkaplerov was the first cosmonaut out of the capsule, followed by Dubrov.
“People have problem on Earth,” said Russian commander Anton Shkaplerov in a live NASA TV broadcast on Tuesday. “On orbit… we are one crew.”
Vande Hei was the last one out, and smiled and waved as he was carried to a reclining chair.
“It’s beautiful out here,” he said.
After initial medical testing on-site, Vande Hei will return to Houston, Texas on a NASA jet.
Jim DeLillo writes about tech, science, and travel. He is also an adventure photographer specializing in transporting imagery and descriptive narrative. He lives in Cedarburg, WI with his wife, Judy. In addition to his work for MetaStellar, he also writes a weekly article for Telescope Live.