Mark Vande Hei, who broke the record for the longest single spaceflight by an American astronaut, has safely made it back to Earth. Vande Hei made his way to the International Space Station on April 9th last year and spent 355 days in orbit, eclipsing Scott Kelly's record of 340 continuous days spent outside our planet's atmosphere. This concludes Vande Hei's second spaceflight, bringing his total number of days spent in space to 523.
The American astronaut made the journey back to Earth with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov aboard the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft. There were fears that Roscosmos would leave Vande Hei stranded in space after the US imposed sanctions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. NASA would've had to rely on private companies, such as SpaceX, to transport him back. Russian space agency Roscosmos issued a statement assuring everyone that it will ferry Vande Hei back home, though, proclaiming that the agency "has never given reason to doubt its reliability as a partner."
The three passengers closed the hatch to their Soyuz spacecraft at 11:30PM EDT on March 29th. They undocked at 2:45AM on March 30th and touched down at 7:28AM (5:28AM local time) in Kazakhstan. While he was aboard the ISS, Vande Hei contributed to dozens of studies conducted on the station, including six investigations by NASA's Human Research Program. His contributions will help the agency and commercial space companies prepare better for long-duration spaceflights to destinations farther than the ISS in the future.