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Russia today confirmed it will return NASA astronaut as planned

As expected, Russia today confirmed in its state-run TASS news agency that NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei will come back to Earth in its Soyuz capsule on March 30th, as planned.

The Soyuz MS-19 space capsule with Anton Shkaplerov, Pyotr Dubrov and Mark Vande Hei is expected to land on March 30. Dubrov and Vande Hei arrived on the ISS in the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft together with Oleg Novitsky. This descent module brought back to Earth the two feature film crew members – actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko, who had arrived on the ISS together with Anton Shkaplerov in the Soyuz MS-19 on October 5.

There had been a number of stories in the mainstream press suggesting the Russians would leave Vande Hei behind in response to the international sanctions being imposed on Russia because of its invasion of the Ukraine. All were based on a single comment by Roscosmos’ head Dmitry Rogozin, who had simply noted visuals from a Russian news source and aired in the U.S. that showed the Russian half of ISS separating away and leaving Vande Hei behind. Rogozin was only noting that the U.S. press was worried about this possibility.

There was no chance the Russians would separate its half of ISS now. Zero. To do such a thing will require several months of preparation. For example, the Russian half has at least one module, Zvezda, that is failing. If Russia ever creates its own new space station using part of ISS, it will have to launch some new modules first.

Also, for Russia to leave Vande Hei behind would be a public relations disaster that would only make worse the disaster of its invasion of the Ukraine. Russia might end its partnership at ISS in the near future, but it won’t do it in a way that might threaten the lives of any astronauts, from any nation.

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  • Ray Van Dune

    Still this surfaces the question of the flexibility of the accommodation of SpaceX’s Dragon. Is it capable of carrying more than four crew, or has that capability been “designed out” by other functional improvements? Is it capable of interfacing with a non-SpaceX suit in an emergency? It would be interesting to know what the real limits are, and perhaps SpaceX should revisit them, especially in light of its status as the only US manned space vehicle, and the only vehicle of any country with expansion capability.

  • pzatchok

    The dragon was originally sized for 7 passengers. I think.

    NASA reduced the number but not the size. So i do think they can add in the extra seat at any time they want. They might have to pull out the bathroom though.

    My real question about the Russians bringing back our guy is will they then hold him “captive” in order to keep him “safe” during this war.

    It would be best if we just brought hum back ourselves.

  • Matt in AZ

    To pzatchok, the landing sites are usually within Kazakhstan. They did not go all in with Russia in voting against the recent UN resolution condemning the Ukraine invasion, merely abstaining instead. While they are under Russian influence, and any returning astronaut would be in Russian hands upon landing, I just don’t see the Kazakh government allowing a hostage crisis to be imposed on them, especially with all of the negative results that would follow.

  • JhonB

    Lets hope he does not get arrested for drugs….

  • geoffc

    The last two modules to the ISS are ‘designed’ or ‘planned’ to be the core of the next station for the Russians, Nauka and Prichal, in theory coudl seperate and go off on their own. Would be better if they launched the next two modules. But I do agree there is ZERO chance of their doing it suddenly.

  • Nabi

    Seems to be more and more trouble to keep it hanging in there.

  • D3F1ANT

    It would be nice if our government would stop delivering us into the power our enemies. We can fly our own astronauts, drill our own oil, and manufacture about ever single thing that we get from China. Where is the sense in burying us deeper and deeper decade after decade?

  • Jeff Wright

    That’s ‘free trade’ libertarianism for you. And Green nonsense.

  • Sez1

    Crazy isn’t it? That our media would lambaste their Space program and make claims that they’d abandon our astronaut in space? ….meanwhile, we’re beholden to them get our astronauts up & down?!? Despite the claims, they’re bringing him home to planet earth.

    Crazy. We make all these crazy claims, criticize them for what they’re doing in another country, yet ignoring our own problems. What about the legislation attempting to be passed that allows for the murdering of a newborn 2 weeks after being born?? ….but, “Russia bad”???

    No thanks.

  • Sez1: We are not “beholden to them to get our astronauts up & down.” Only Vande Hei, who was launched by the Russians and must come home in a Soyuz capsule. NASA bought that seat because Boeing’s Starliner capsule remains unready and delayed, and it wanted some redundancy to SpaceX’s Dragon capsules.

    By the end of this year I expect both Dragon and Starliner will be operational. Thus, the only Americans who might fly on a Soyuz will do so as part of a barter deal, where some NASA astronauts fly on theirs and some Russian astronauts fly on ours, so that both know both capsule in case of emergency.

    How many barter flights will occur however is unclear. The Ukraine War might end them all.

  • George C

    Who can forget

    Space cooperation can lead by example to better times.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Ray and pzatchok – I too think that Dragon was originally designed for 7 crew. I thought that the 7 place crew was predicated on the Super Draco application that would have provided Dragon the ability to soft land on land and also be used to land a Dragon on Mars.

    My understanding is that placing crew below the existing 4 place seat row would afford a very rough landing even at sea. I have never been able to find an article that clearly discusses the design decisions running from 7 place to 4 place.

    I wonder if some of the investigations for Apollo Applications which raised the crew compliment to 5 could be applied to Dragon?

  • pzatchok

    The dragon and Super dracos were designed to land 7 astronauts.

    They take the dracos off and the seats out for the cargo version.

    I bet that in an emergency you do not need a seat to carry an extra astronaut, Just room on the floor. good padding and nice strong cargo straps.

    There is no weight problem since the passenger dragon also carries cargo with the people.

    At some point it should at least be tested.

  • Daniel

    Not if you ask Joe Biden or the MSM.

  • Lee S


    Quote… “What about the legislation attempting to be passed that allows for the murdering of a newborn 2 weeks after being born??”
    I can’t just sit back and let this pass… This is dangerous fake news.

    If you read or heard this somewhere, you are being lied to. The statement you just asked about does not exist. Full stop. It is “fake news”.

    There is a discussion in the US regarding banning abortion after 4-6 weeks, I have opinions, but it’s another argument.

    There is no, and I repeat NO discussion, anywhere in the civilised world of “murdering of a newborn 2 weeks after being born”

    Turn your back on wherever you heard that my friend… You are being lied to.

  • Lee S

    And I have to say…. Shame upon everyone else here for having nothing to say regarding this misinformation..

    Free speech is both a right and a privilege, and one of the obligations that go along with said privilege is calling out free speech when it is false speech.

    Sezl has obviously been fed a line, and the fact that no one else here has the gonads to point out he is referencing a false news source speaks wonders about our host and the audience here.

  • Lee S: Since neither you nor Sezl provided any links, neither is standing on strong ground. However, Sezl is more correct than you are. See these stories:

    Maryland ‘Pregnant Persons’ Bill Seeks to Decriminalize Infanticide

    Colorado bill could legalize infanticide, force doctors to commit abortions

    Both laws essentially allow a mother to “expose” a child to death after birth, as the Romans once permitted. This is essentially legalizing infanticide.

  • Lee S: I must add that both laws are being pushed by Democrats, from the left. That you are not horrified and speaking out against this legislation is shameful.

  • pzatchok

    Lee S

    You just proved that free speech works without laws banning “false” speech.

    When is a different opinion the same as false speech?

    To me free speech is everyone is allowed to say anything they want as often as they want and in any public place they want.

    Its up to me if I want to believe them.

    Other than slander, Which effects others trust in me.

  • Max

    Along with the links Zimmerman has provided you…
    Don’t you remember this from a few years ago by a governor in Virginia?

    “The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

    Virginia late-term abortion bill labelled ‘infanticide’

    It’s even come up in the US Senate to force all states to provide this service.

    You wrote a scathing accusations against Sezl, Zimmerman, and all the readers of the article who did not comment.
    False accusations.
    I believe you need to write a retraction and apologize for blunt criticism that was unfounded, and your failure to do any research before your comment.
    Passion is not an excuse for bad behavior, that is uncivilized and immature. We all make mistakes, learning from them is how we grow up.

    To quote you;

    “Free speech is both a right and a privilege, and one of the obligations that go along with said privilege is calling out free speech when it is false speech”

    Consider yourself “called out”, and therefore, I lift the fake shame that you placed on everyone…

  • sippin_bourbon

    Lee S

    You just proved a point about selective news sources.

    These laws that are being introduced are not new, and were not concealed.
    But the news sourced you choose to consume failed to report them.

    My recommendation is to broaden your consumption a little, even daring to go to sources why present a spin or slant that you do not always agree with.

    You may find information that you missed. And please ask yourself, why would your favored sources withhold this from you?

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