NASA astronaut may have extended stay on ISS – SpaceNews

— A NASA astronaut flying to the Worldwide House Station in April may spend as much as a 12 months on the station, an prolonged keep that he stated he was “enthusiastic” about.

NASA introduced March 9 that Mark Vande Hei would fly on the Soyuz MS-18 mission to the space station, launching April 9. He’ll fly with Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov.

In a typical mission situation, the three would keep on the station for about six months, returning after the subsequent crew arrives on Soyuz MS-19 in October. Nonetheless, Roscosmos officers have mentioned filming a film on the station in October, sending up Klim Shipenko and an actress to be chosen throughout an ongoing competitors on Soyuz MS-19 together with commander Anton Shkaplerov. Shipenko and the actress would return on Soyuz MS-18 with Novitsky, commander of that mission, requiring Dubrov and Vande to remain on the station till as late as April 2022, when the subsequent Soyuz crew rotation mission launches.

Vande Hei, in a name with reporters March 15, acknowledged he might keep on the station for than six months. “All of it relies on whether or not these vacationers go up on the spacecraft within the fall, as a result of they might take my seat again,” he stated.

He stated he welcomes the prospect for an prolonged keep on the ISS. “Truthfully, for me it’s simply a possibility for a brand new life expertise. I’ve by no means been in area longer than six months,” he stated, a reference to his first mission to the ISS, which lasted from September 2017 by February 2018. “I’m actually keen about it.”

That unsure length will not be the one uncommon facet concerning the mission. NASA acquired the seat not by buying it straight from Roscosmos, because it has prior to now, however as an alternative by an alternate with business spaceflight firm Axiom House, which obtained the seat from Roscosmos in a deal the phrases of which neither Roscosmos nor Axiom disclosed. Axiom will obtain a seat on a NASA business crew mission to the ISS, doubtless in 2023, in alternate for the Soyuz seat.

Vande Hei stated he was not concerned within the negotiations for the seat. “I’m positive it was a really sophisticated, difficult factor to work out. I do know numerous effort went into making it occur,” he stated. “I’m actually comfortable it labored out the best way it did, and I’m additionally very comfortable that I didn’t must cope with all these particulars.”

Vande Hei began coaching final 12 months as a backup to Kate Rubins, the NASA astronaut who flew to the station on the Soyuz MS-17 mission final October, then “flowed proper into” coaching for Soyuz MS-18. “The one factor that was unsure was whether or not or not I really launch because of doing the coaching,” he stated.

Roscosmos initially introduced that Sergei Korsakov would Novitsky and Dubrov on Soyuz MS-18. Vande Hei skilled with these three for months, he stated, figuring out that solely three of the 4 individuals would fly. “We had been prepared for no matter contingency,” he stated.

Due to that uncertainty, he stated he had been managing his expectations about whether or not he would launch. “I used to be to not get too emotional, too enthusiastic about the truth that I could also be launching in April,” he stated. “I solely realized that I had been doing that once I felt tremendous excited when it was really finalized.”

Roscosmos went as far to make two variations of the Soyuz MS-18 mission patch, one with Vande Hei’s identify — seen in February in photos of training activities by Novitsky and Dubrov — and one with Korsakov’s identify. In a present of comradery, Vande Hei stated he wore the model of the patch with Korsakov’s identify whereas Korsakov wore the patch with Vande Hei’s identify. “I’ll at all times think about him to be part of our workforce,” he stated of Korsakov.

Russian media reported that Roscosmos is contemplating assigning Korsakov to a future Crew Dragon mission as soon as NASA and Roscosmos finalize an settlement concerning the alternate of seats between Soyuz and business crew automobiles.

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