"The world doesn't seem so big when you can see so far!"
Astronaut and retired U.S. Army Col. Mark T. Vande Hei most recently served as Flight Engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 53/54. Vande Hei launched to the International Space Station in September 2017 and returned on February 27, 2018 after 168 days in space on this, his first, mission. He ventured outside the space station on four spacewalks to perform work that included replacing and lubricating the Latching End Effectors on both ends of the Canadarm2.
During the mission the crew marked the beginning of the first long-term increase in crew size on the U.S. segment, enabling NASA to double the time dedicated to research and achieve a record-setting week of research that surpassed 100 hours. Prior to becoming an astronaut, the Virginia native earned a Bachelor's Degree in Physics from Saint John's University and a Master of Science in Applied Physics from Stanford University. He was commissioned in the U.S. Army through the ROTC program and served as a combat engineer platoon leader in Iraq during Operation Provide Comfort.