I didn’t even know that we had an astronaut on the International Space Station, but we did, and the good news is that the Russians won’t be leaving him there.
Roscosmos, the Russian state space agency, has announced that they will not be stranding United States astronaut Mark Vande Hei on the International Space Station (or ISS) While this would seem like a bizarre statement to have to make (via the Russian state-owned news outlet TASS, no less) even just a few months ago, this is the world we now live in. Vande Hei, a former US Army officer and highly experienced astronaut and engineer, has been aboard the International Space Station since April 2021. Last year, he had his assignment extended in duration for another six months, and recently broke the record for the longest stay in space by an American astronaut. However, mounting tension between Russia and well, a whole lot of other countries in the world, led to some doubt whether the plan for Vande Hei to leave the station via Russian transport would be honored.
Of course, we all knew they’d let him go. It’s not as if Russia is the kind of country that would murder astronauts or blow up babies, after all. Well, maybe they’d do the latter, but only because mass graves are easier to ignore than dead astronauts drifting through space.
But that’s not what caught my eye about this particular article. Apparently, the author dislikes Elon Musk about as much as I do.
The International Space Station was launched in 1998 as a five-part collaborative effort by the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and a conglomerate of European nations. For the 23 years it has been in operation, it has been a marker of relatively benevolent international cooperation and goodwill. Unfortunately, we live in an increasingly bizarre world where the planet’s richest man (whose best long-term idea has been “a subway, but real fast”) uses social media to challenge the President of Russia to single combat. For the record, an estimated three million refugees have fled Ukraine during the ongoing invasion by Russian forces, while Elon Musk makes bear and flamethrower jokes about it.
As a true gesture of good will, I suggest we let Musk take Mark Vande Hei’s place.