BSM Alum Mark Vande Hei sets Space Record


Marin King

Students and faculty celebrate BSM alum, Mark Vande Hei’s, space career with red, white, and blue.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s has always had a prestigious reputation for alumni who do remarkable things. However, Mark Vande Hei, a NASA space astronaut, has truly done something out of this world.

After NASA chose to extend Vande Hei’s stay in space to study the long-term effects of microgravity on the human body, he has finally returned. On March 30, Vande Hei set the world record for the longest US explorer to stay in space over the period of a single flight. His record, 355 days, exceeds Scott Kelly’s previous record by 15 days. In total, the journey was almost 151 million miles, which is equivalent to 312 trips to the moon and back. “I didn’t know with certainty that the flight would be this long when I launched, but I certainly knew that it was a possibility,” Vande Hei said in an interview on

To Vande Hei, the conclusion of this trip is bittersweet since it was Vande Hei’s second space flight and also likely his last. Although he has expressed how he has learned how to manage his psychological state and maintain positive by taking up practices like meditation in front of the ISS’s (International Space Station) largest window, he also misses his family. “I’m very, very grateful to have had this amazing opportunity to come up to the space station, to be up here with such wonderful people who I will consider my friends for the rest of my life, to serve my country and all of humanity. So there will be gratitude for that, enthusiasm for the future, and a little bit of sadness too,” Vande Hei said in an interview from Johnson Space Center.

Vande Hei and his two crewmates’ successful landing is a momentous achievement for both the crew and the space program. Vande Hei says although the ISS has been his home for almost a year, he is thrilled to be back on Earth. Among everything he missed, smelling the spring vegetation, making himself and his wife a cup of coffee, and enjoying chips with guacamole are among the top of his list. “Just having relaxing Saturday mornings is a wonderful thing,” Vande Hei said in the Johnson Space Center interview, .

The students and faculty are also extremely proud of Vande Hei and are grateful to see that he has returned safely, especially being that there was some concern with the capsule landing in Kazakhstan, Russia. Mike Jeremiah, BSM’s campus minister, has always been a big fan of any space movies, including Star Trek and Star Wars, since the beginning. Jeremiah was also one of Vande Hei’s religion teachers during his time here as a student and expressed that he is very proud of Vande Hei’s depth of faith. “He was truly a young man who cared about other people,” Jeremiah said.