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Former Minnesotan will spend half of 2017 at Space Station


He used to live in Minnesota and soon he'll live in outer space.

Astronaut Mark Vande Hei has been notified by NASA that he and two cosmonauts are headed to the International Space Station next year for a six month stay.

Vande Hei, whose parents still live in Chanhassen, tells FOX 9 that as a boy he imagined being an astronaut – but in the same way that he imagined being a super hero.

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Vande Hei was in the U.S. Army before he joined NASA. FOX notes his career includes a stint as an aquanaut, during which he lived on the ocean floor for nine days.

As his NASA bio shows, Vande Hei is a graduate of Benilde St. Margaret's high school in St. Louis Park and of St. John's University in Collegeville.

His Minnesota roots provided him with the tools to be a successful astronaut, Vande Hei, says. He tells FOX his sense of values and learning how to treat other people with respect are a big part of it.

In an interview with his alma mater a few years ago, Vande Hei said his liberal arts education from St John's has been more important than any of his technical education. "Some physics students have asked me, 'Of your education, what did you use the most?' I told them my English - my ability to communicate with people," he said.

After graduating from St. John's in 1989, Vande Hei, 49, served tours in Iraq with the Army, with a stint on the physics faculty at West Point in between.

He joined NASA's mission control center in Houston in 2006. Three years later, he was one of nine people selected for astronaut class – out of the 3,500 who applied.

Even though it's about 250 miles above Earth, the International Space Station has connections to Minnesota.

Dr. Kjell Lindgren, who is currently aboard the ISS, completed his medical residency at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Karen Nyberg, who grew up in Otter Tail County, spent six months there in 2013.

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A Minnesota college graduate is headed to space

Mark T. Vande Hei will be spending five months on the International Space Station.