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Astronauts perform ‘space dance’ to mark 300 days in orbit


How would you mark spending 300 days in orbit? Celebrating his own extended stay aboard the Internationals Space Station (ISS) this week, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei performed a microgravity-aided dance, set to Johan Strauss II’s The Blue Danube.

Fellow NASA astronaut Kayla Barron appeared alongside Vande Hei, mirroring his moves to add a spot of synchronicity to proceedings.

Happy 300th Consecutive Day in Space to my friend and favorite space trick partner, @Astro_Sabot. I’m so grateful to be up here with such wonderful, hardworking, caring, fun human beings.
– Kayla Barron

— NASA Astronauts (@NASA_Astronauts) February 3, 2022

Vande Hei, who arrived at the ISS on April 9, 2021, has so far orbited Earth 4,800 times and traveled more than 127 million statute miles, according to NASA data.

The American is set to stay for a total of 355 days, breaking the existing 340-day NASA record set by Scott Kelly in 2016.

Russian cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov arrived at the ISS on the same Soyuz spacecraft as Vande Hei and so will share the record for the longest stay aboard the ISS. The pair will return to Earth together on March 15.

While Vende Hei and Dubrov were originally set to stay aboard the ISS for a standard six-month mission, alterations in crew rotation schedules last fall led to the pair having their missions extended. Vande Hei spoke at the time about the prospect of breaking the record for the longest single stay in space by an American astronaut.

Vande Hei spoke about how extended missions like his can help NASA plan for the first voyages to distant planets, though he added, “The big difference is when we get our first folks to Mars, we’re not going to have a staff of nurses and doctors there to make sure we’re healthy and take care of us … we have to make sure that astronauts are healthy enough to take care of all of those things on their own when they’re very far away from Earth, so being able to contribute to that is something I will always be very proud of.”

Tweeting on Thursday, Vande Hei shared several of his journal entries penned during his mission.

Day 100: “Phew I’m glad it is Friday … I definitely lost in my battle to remain unflustered with a Zen-like state of calm.”

— Mark T. Vande Hei (@Astro_Sabot) February 3, 2022

Day 300: “The adventure continues.”

— Mark T. Vande Hei (@Astro_Sabot) February 3, 2022

Vande Hei won’t take the record for the longest single stay in space. That’s currently held by Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who stayed aboard the Mir space station for more than 14 months — 437 days 18 hours to be precise — during a mission that ended in 1995.

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