A NASA astronaut who will travel to the International Space Station in the month of April could remain for up to a year, a prolonged stay that he described as “passionate.” NASA selected Mark Vande Hei on 9 March to travel on Soyuz MS-18 flight to the International Space Station, which will deploy on April 9. He’ll be joined by cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky as well as Pyotr Dubrov from Roscosmos.
The three will remain on the station for around six months in a standard project scenario, returning after the next crew lands on Soyuz MS-19 in the month of October. However, Roscosmos authorities have debated shooting a movie on the station in the month of October, with director Klim Shipenko as well as an actress to be chosen during a competition being held on Soyuz MS-19, as well as commander Anton Shkaplerov. Shipenko, as well as the actress, will return on the Soyuz MS-18 with Novitsky, the mission’s captain, forcing Vande Hei and Dubrov to remain on the station until the upcoming Soyuz crew rotation flight launches in 2022 April.
In a media interview on March 15, Vande Hei said he could stay at the station for more than six months. “It all relies on whether such tourists go up on the spaceship in the fall,” he said, “because they’d take my seat back.”
He shared his enthusiasm at the possibility of spending more time on the International Space Station. “To be honest, it’s just a chance for a new life experience for me.” He said, “I’ve never been in space for more than six months,” referring to his first flight to the International Space Station, which operated from 2017 September to 2018 February. “I’m very excited about it.”
The mission’s unknown period isn’t the only unusual feature. NASA acquired the seat through an arrangement with commercial spaceflight firm Axiom Space, which purchased the position from Roscosmos in a transaction that neither Roscosmos nor Axiom revealed the terms of. In return for the Soyuz seat, Axiom will obtain a seat on the NASA commercial crew flight to the International Space Station, most likely in 2023.
Vande Hei stated that he was not interested in the seat discussions. “I’m sure it was a difficult and time-consuming task to figure out. He stated, “I know a lot of work put into creating it happen.” “I’m really pleased with how things turned out, and I’m even happier that I didn’t have to contend with all those specifics.”