NASA astronaut, Russian cosmonauts land in Kazakhstan

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei (left) and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, (center) and Pyotr Dubrov are seen inside their Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft after landing.

(CNN)After a record-breaking 355 days spent in space, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is back on Earth.

In a Russian Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft, Vande Hei and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov undocked from the International Space Station at 3.21 a.m. ET Wednesday. They touched down after a parachute-assisted landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan at 7:28 a.m. ET.
The spacecraft experienced its deorbit burn at 6:34 a.m. ET Wednesday, which lasted over four minutes and helped slow the Soyuz down. Each step of the crew's return was streamed live on NASA's TV channel and website.
    The Soyuz landed upright but ended up on its side due to winds pulling the parachute. Recovery teams assisted the crew in leaving the capsule. After landing, the Russian mission control center's main screen shared the message, "Welcome back, Mark!" in English and "Touchdown!" in Russian.
      Russian mission control displayed a welcome message for Mark Vande Hei.
      It was a highly anticipated return that has only drawn more attention due to mounting geopolitical tensions over the past month, and NASA has repeatedly reaffirmed that it continues to work closely with Russian space agency Roscosmos.
        From left to right: Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Russian cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov.
        After a health check and a two-hour helicopter ride to the recovery staging city of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, Vande Hei will travel back to Houston aboard a Gulfstream jet, as other NASA astronauts have done before, and the cosmonauts will return to their training base in Star City, Russia. Vande Hei's NASA plane will make a stop in Colonge, Germany, for refueling before heading home.
        Joint operations between NASA and Roscosmos at the Russian facilities at Baikonur, Kazakhstan, "continue to go well," said Joel Montalbano, the manager of NASA's International Space Station program, during a press conference on March 14.
          Montalbano's remarks came as Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin made several fiery social media posts directed at the United States, including a heavily edited, partially animated video that appeared to threaten that Russian astronauts would abandon Vande Hei in space. Rogozin has long been known to share outlandish statements on social media. Former astronaut Scott Kelly just recently backed off of a Twitter war with Rogozin.
          Vande Hei and Dubrov launched to the space station in April 2021, and together they have completed 5,680 orbits of Earth and traveled more than 150 million miles around our planet. Vande Hei has now broken the record for the longest single spaceflight by an American astronaut, which previously was set by Kelly at 340 days.
          NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei (background) and Roscosmos cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov launched to the space station in April 2021.
          The extended mission will allow researchers to study the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body, like the Twins Study that Kelly and his twin, Mark, participated in during Scott's long duration. The insights gathered from extended missions can better prepare NASA to send astronauts to the moon and on to Mars, according to the agency.
          The Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft is seen as it lands in Kazakhstan.
          "Mark's mission is not only record-breaking, but also paving the way for future human explorers on the Moon, Mars, and beyond," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement. "Our astronauts make incredible sacrifices in the name of science, exploration, and cutting-edge technology development, not least among them time away from loved ones. NASA and the nation are proud to welcome Mark home and grateful for his incredible contributions throughout his year-long stay on the International Space Station."