Russians to give American astronaut ride to Earth in spite of tensions
It was originally thought Mark Vande Hei – who has been in space for 355 days – might be left behind due to heightened tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But it has been confirmed he will travel aboard a Russian capsule to Kazakhstan.
Both the American and two other Russian cosmonauts will be brought back.
Joel Montalbano, Nasa’s ISS programme manager, said: “I can tell you for sure Mark is coming home… We are in communication with our Russian colleagues. There’s no fuzz on that.”
He admitted astronauts were “aware of what’s going on” around them in the world, but they still work as a “team”.Dmitry Rogozin, chief of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, had previously warned about sanctions causing technical issues to the ISS but Mr Montalbano said it had continued to run smoothly.
“All these activities have continued for 20 years and nothing has changed in the last three weeks. Our control centres operate successfully, flawlessly, seamlessly,” he said.The US controls power and life support aboard the ISS and Russia controls things such as its propulsion.
Earlier this month on Russian state TV, Mr Rogozin announced Roscosmos would halt rocket sales to the US in response to sanctions against Russia.
Mr Vande Hei, 55, has spent 355 days in space, a new US record.