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SEND ASTRONAUT VIDEO"Students from Mrs. VanVooren's Science Class and Mrs. Finger's Homeroom class were involved in making a video on Oct. 26 with birthday wishes for Mark Vande Hei, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Pictured left to right are Kaira Johnson, Taylor Wornter, Eli Berndt, Daphne Cornell, Dawson Mech and Rachel Nelson holding a greeting card made by the class.

Astronaut Vande Hei to Get Birthday Video in Space

A nephew of Jim and Jan Vande Hei of Peshtigo, Mark T. Vande Hei, Colonel, U.S. Army, and NASA Astronaut, who is currently on the International Space Station will receive a Happy Birthday video in space from Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center 4th grade students. Jodi VanVooren, a cousin of Mark Vande Hei and a 4th grade teacher along with fellow teacher, Laura Finger made the video on Thursday October 26. Students were excited to be able to send birthday greetings to the space station. Each student also wore a paper patch with the mission number.

Pope Francis even called Vande Hei at the International Space Station to wish him good luck at the start of his mission.

Mark was born Nov. 10, 1966 in Virginia to Thomas and Mary Vande Hei, who now reside in Chanhassen, Minn., Mark and his wife Julie, are the parents of two children, twins, Lauren and Gabriel. Some of Mark's hobbies include exercising, camping, windsurfing and reading.

In 1989 he received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from St. John's University at Collegeville, Minn., and in 1999 a Master of Science degree in Applied Physics from Stanford University.

Vande Hei was commissioned through ROTC following graduation from St. John's University in 1989. After graduating from the Army's Engineer Officer Basic Course and Ranger School, he reported to the 3rd Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment (Airborne Battalion Combat team), Caserma Ederle, Italy. His roles there included combat engineer platoon leader, heavy engineer platoon leader, cold-weather-training officer, and support platoon leader. As a combat engineer platoon leader, he served in Iraq during Operation Provide Comfort. In 1994 he reported to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. While there, Vande Hei served in the staff of the 299th and 4th Engineer Battalions, and then commanded C Company, 4th Engineer Battalion. After completing a Master of Science degree in 1999, he served as an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at the United States Military Academy, West Point, New York.

In 2003, he reported to the Army's 1st Space Battalion at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. There, he served as an Army space support team leader, then as the battalion's operations officer. As an Army space support team leader, Vande Hei deployed to Iraq for 12 months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Vande Hei reported to the Johnson Space Center in July 2006 to serve as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) in the Mission Control Center, Houston. He was selected in June 2009 as a member of the 20th NASA astronaut class, completing astronaut candidate training in June 2011. From June 2012 to May 2013 he served as the Astronaut Office's Director of Operations in Russia. He is currently a part of the Expedition 53/54 crew that launched to the International Space Station in September 2017 for his 6 month mission.


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