MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota native is on his way to space.

Mark Vande Hei, a retired U.S. Army colonel, is scheduled to head to the International Space Station Tuesday afternoon, according to NASA officials.

The 51-year-old astronaut graduated from Benilde-St. Margaret’s high school in St. Louis Park in 1985, and then earned his B.S. in physics from St. John’s University in Collegeville in 1989. His parents currently live in Chanhassen.

Vande Hei now lives in Virginia with his wife and two children. He taught physics at West Point, and served in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He will spend five-and-a-half months aboard the space station with an international crew, comprised of two other Americans, two Russians and one Italian astronaut.

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