A St. John's University graduate is headed to space for a second time. Mark Vande Hei will depart for the International Space Station on Friday, April 9th as a flight engineer.

Vande Hei, who graduated from SJU in 1989, will join two Russian cosmonauts on the mission. He previously went to the ISS from September 2017 to February 2018 for 168 days total, returning to Earth on February 28th, 2018.

On that mission he investigated the manufacturing of fiber optic filaments in microgravity, improved the accuracy of implantable glucose biosensors and measured the Sun's energy input to Earth, according to NASA.

This mission, called Expedition 64/65, will conduct experiments to learn more about living off of the Earth's surface.

After leaving SJU, Vande Hei joined the Army, then got his masters degree from Stanford. He was a professor of physics at the U.S. Military Academy before becoming an astronaut in 2009.

Per NASA's release on Vande Hei's mission:

For more than 20 years, astronauts have continuously lived and worked on the space station, testing technologies, performing science and developing the skills needed to explore farther from Earth. As a global endeavor, 242 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas. Through NASA’s Artemis program, the agency will send astronauts to the surface of the Moon, with eventual human exploration of Mars. Inspiring the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation – ensures America will continue to lead in space exploration and discovery.

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