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.

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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.

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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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