SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 26 September 2021, Sunday |

US astronaut launching next month may spend year in space

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.: NASA may soon chalk up another one-year space mission thanks to an out-of-this-world Russian movie-making deal.

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei learned just last week that he’ll launch April 9 on a Russian rocket to the International Space Station. The former station resident suspected that might happen and had been training just in case.

In a news conference Monday from cosmonaut headquarters in Star City, Vande Hei said he may have to give up his return Soyuz seat in the fall to a Russian space tourist who’s interested in filming up there. If that happens, he and possibly one of his two Russian crewmates would have to wait for the next Soyuz ride home — most likely in spring 2022.

“Honestly, for me, it’s just an opportunity for a new life experience,” he told reporters. “I’ve never been in space longer than about six months, so if someone tells me I’ve got to stay in space for a year, I’ll find out what that feels like. I’m really enthusiastic about it.”