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Astronaut captures magical shot of the moon and Earth

The moon and Earth seen from the space station.

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei has shared a sublime shot (above) of the moon and Earth captured from the International Space Station.

“Shockingly bright as I opened our shades, the moon lingered, strutting by,” Vande Hei wrote in a tweet alongside the photo. “Lots of time to find good camera settings! Soon we’ll be exploring our neighbor again.”

Shockingly bright as I opened our shades, the Moon lingered, strutting by. Lots of time to find good camera settings! Soon we’ll be exploring our neighbor again.

— Mark T. Vande Hei (@Astro_Sabot) February 16, 2022

Vande Hei’s comment about moon exploration is a reference to NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions that will see the first woman and first person of color set foot on the moon by the end of this decade, a highly anticipated endeavor that will also mark the first crewed visit to the lunar surface since the Apollo missions five decades ago.

There’s still much preparation to take care of before NASA can launch the mission to our nearest neighbor some 239,000 miles (384,000 km) away, including the first test flight later this year of the awesome SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft that will eventually carry a crew toward the moon.

As for Vande Hei, he’s clearly enjoying his second visit to the space station, which orbits 250 miles above Earth. Besides grabbing the occasional stunning image, he’s also working on various science experiments in the unique microgravity conditions that the ISS provides.

Vande Hei also recently celebrated 300 days in space and is set to stay in orbit for longer than any other American astronaut to date, with his 355-day mission destined to beat Scott Kelly’s 340-day stay in 2016.

However, Vande Hei’s mission won’t come close to beating the longest single space visit, a record currently held by Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who stayed on the Mir space station for 437 days 18 hours during a mission in the mid-1990s.

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