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.

This embed is invalid

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.

Next Up

Grand casino

Grand Casino celebrates 30th anniversary with more than cake

Hundreds of thousands of winning dollars are on the table.

Brodd defense witness

As defense starts, expert argues Chauvin's use of force was reasonable

Use-of-force expert Barry Brodd testified on behalf of the defense.

Chet Holmgren

Chet Holmgren named Minnesota's Mr. Basketball

Minnehaha Academy produces back-to-back award winners for the second time in state history.

Byron Buxton

Red Sox out-slug Twins in chilly matinee

Bobby Dalbec hit two RBI doubles to hand the Twins their third straight loss.

Governor Tim Walz

As CDC urges Michigan to shut down, Gov. Walz watches closely

Walz says there are no imminent plans to dial back.


Man, 26, collapses and dies at event center shortly after altercation

The incident was reported Saturday night in Stearns County.

Allina Crossroads Campus

Allina Health will reopen Buffalo clinic after fatal mass shooting

A timeline about when the clinic will reopen hasn't been released.