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Russia Says it will not Strand American Astronaut in Space

Russia has threatened to leave an American Astronaut stranded on the International Space Station in retaliation for sanctions imposed on it while it continues to occupy Ukraine. However, Russia’s official space corporation Roscosmos is attempting to assuage those anxieties, stating that the Astronaut would be returned to Russia as planned.

Mark Vande Hei, a NASA Astronaut, has been stationed on the International Space Station since April 2021. Vande Hei and two cosmonauts were sent to the ISS by a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan. While living on the ISS, his stay was extended to a full year, and he is slated to return home in another Soyuz capsule on March 30th. When he returns home, he will have the record for longest continuous spaceflight by an American Astronaut. Fears that Russia might refuse to bring Vande Hei home on the Soyuz started circulating last week.

The head of Russia’s space program, Rogozin, said he says online do sometimes translate to actual policy. Rogozin said that he issued a demand to Roscosmos customer OneWeb. Roscosmos was supposed to launch satellites for OneWeb on a Russian Soyuz rocket on March 5th from Kazakhstan. Russia would not move ahead with the launch unless the company promised the satellites would not be used for military purposes and that the UK government divest its entire stake in OneWeb.

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