Mark Vande Hei, a NASA astronaut, sets a new record for the longest US space journey - Beyond The World
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Mark Vande Hei, a NASA astronaut, sets a new record for the longest US space journey

When NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei launched into space 11 months ago, he had no idea how long he would be away from Earth, let alone if he would be able to break any records.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who is setting a new record for the longest U.S. spaceflight, said he has dealt with the extended mission by meditating while looking out into space from inside the International Space Station’s Cupola. (Image credit: NASA)

However, when the clock strikes 12:24 p.m. EDT (1624 GMT) today (March 15), Vande Hei will become the first American astronaut to complete a single spaceflight. With a mission duration of 340 days, 8 hours, and 42 minutes, Vande Hei will exceed NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s record of 340 days, 8 hours, and 42 minutes set on March 2, 2013.

From Tuesday afternoon forward, until his scheduled ride home on March 30, Vande Hei’s record will continue to grow. His stay aboard theInternational Space Station is expected to wrap just short of a full year at 355 days.

“I didn’t know with certainty that the flight would be this long when I launched, but I certainly knew that it was a possibility,” Vande Hei said in an interview with CBS News in January. “I felt like it was an opportunity to fill a need that we had, and I was very happy to be able to fill it.”

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