Russia Threatens to Strand American Astronaut in Space

The International Space Station (ISS) is located about 250 miles from earth and includes astronauts from many countries all over the world.

One of them is American astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who has already been orbiting the earth on the ISS for around a year.

By March 30, Vande Hei will hold America’s record for longest time aboard ISS at 355 days and is scheduled to catch a ride back along with two Russian astronauts. They are scheduled to do a parachute landing in Kazakhstan.

There’s just one problem: Russia says they’re no longer going to give Vande Hei a ride as scheduled.

Russia’s Space Director Issues Deranged Threat

The head of Russia’s space agency is a man by the name of Dmitry Rogozin.

He recently threatened to section off Russia’s part of the ISS and leave Vande Hei behind. The reason is the American sanctions that have hit Russia as a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Up until this point, the US and Russia have worked together to help keep ISS running, along with other nations. Russia’s space agency Roscocosmos and its astronauts work together with Americans, but the war is getting in the way of that.

Vande Hei’s latest trip to the ISS began in April of 2021 as part of a mission along with two Russian astronauts to find out more facts about living in space and its effects on the human body.

Now, Vande Hei’s scheduled ride with fellow astronauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov is in danger of not happening.

Will Rogozin Follow Through on This Threat?

Part of Biden’s sanctions against Russia last month included strong hits to its aerospace program, including Roscocosmos. That’s why Russia is now reacting by saying they’re going to strand Vande Hei.

Vande Hei is a calm and measured guy who originally was only supposed to be up on ISS for six months, but when it was extended to a year, he took it in stride.

Of course, another flight can be arranged to pick him up from the ISS and bypass Rogozin’s threat. Yet, it’s not nearly as easy (or cheap) as you might imagine. Russia’s threats here are disturbing and juvenile.

The Bottom Line

This situation goes to show just how far Russia is willing to take its invasive new military strategy, even letting it affect their space program and innocent astronauts who have nothing to do with the war.

In addition, this does show Biden’s sanctions against Russia struck a nerve, which is one of the few times you do have to give Biden some credit.

Even though he’s partly responsible for emboldening our enemies and failing to help Ukraine with weapons sooner, Biden’s sanctions response ended up being quite robust and he deserves some credit for that.