An American astronaut will get a ride back to Earth on a Russian capsule, despite worry that the Russians might have left him stranded in space.
For weeks there was concern that astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who has lived aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for 355 days, might be stuck in space because of political upheaval over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
However, the U.S. astronaut is now scheduled to fly on a Russian capsule to Kazakhstan along with two Russian cosmonauts, BBC News reported.
NASA's International Space Station (ISS) programme manager Joel Montalbano confirmed that Vande Hei will be returning to Earth.
“We are in communication with our Russian colleagues. There's no fuzz on that," he said.
He added that while those aboard the ISS are paying attention to events going on down below, they are still working together aboard the space station.
Vande Hei, 55, currently holds the record for the most days spent in outer space.
International law stipulates that astronauts from any nationality are mandated to "provide all possible help" to other astronauts in need. This includes emergency landings in a “foreign country or at sea.”
The head of Russian space agency Roscosmos had said earlier in the month that sanctions could harm operations on the ISS. But the space stations has continued to operate without issue.
Operation of the ISS is split between the U.S. and Russia, with the Americans operating the power and life support systems and Russia operating technical aspects such as propulsion.