A NASA astronaut currently on board the International Space Station is scheduled to return to Earth in a Russian spacecraft.
Mark Vande Hei is set to end his 355-day stint in space by boarding a Russian Soyuz rocket.
After NASA retired the Space Shuttle back in 2011, it has been customary to use Soyuz aircrafts to send astronauts to and from the ISS.
However, since SpaceX entered the scene, their Crew Dragon spacecraft has enabled NASA to send astronauts directly again.
Unfortunately, Vande Hei got to the station on a Soyuz last year, meaning it’s also his ticket home.
Despite growing tension between the US and Russia, NASA has assured operations on board the International Space Station are business as usual.
On the other hand, Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos shared a very different view when he appeared to threaten the US last week.
Taking to Twitter, as per CNN, he wrote: “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from uncontrolled deorbiting and falling into the United States.”
He then went on to threaten several other countries, as he continued: “There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect?
"The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?”
All in all, Vande Hei should be one of NASA’s last astronauts to use a Russian spacecraft, thanks to both SpaceX’s contributions and in light of ongoing geopolitical tensions.
The news comes in light of satellite images showing a 40-mile convoy of Russian vehicles that appear to close in on Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, on its sixth day of war.
The photos, captured by US satellite company Maxar Technologies, show a bigger military force than initially anticipated.
On Monday (28 February), a military convoy consisting of hundreds of armoured vehicles, tanks, artillery and support vehicles was no more than 17 miles from the city centre, according to satellite imagery from Maxar.
It was earlier believed to be 17 miles long, but additional satellite imagery has shown how it stretched for 40 miles.
These images come as more than 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed after Russian artillery hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv, according to a post by the head of the region Dmytro Zhyvytsky on Telegram.
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Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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