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NASA astronaut wears face mask on ISS to prepare for life back on Earth

Chris Cassidy spent the last six months in orbit, and he's returning this week to a worsening coronavirus situation.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy is getting used to wearing a mask before he comes back to Earth.
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy left this planet and traveled to the International Space Station back in early April. The coronavirus pandemic has only gotten worse in the US since then, so he figured he should start practicing for the hard realities of coming home.

Cassidy and two Russian cosmonaut crew mates are scheduled to return to Earth this week after their six-month stint on the ISS.   

On Monday, Cassidy tweeted photos of himself wearing a face mask on the ISS. "Training myself for my new reality when I get home on Wednesday," he wrote

Cassidy, along with Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos, went through a standard quarantine period before launching to the ISS earlier this year. There were a few more restrictions than normal, such as a reduced support crew at the launch site. No guests were allowed, either.

Strict quarantine rules and health checks have meant that all crew members who have flown to the ISS since the start of pandemic have been coronavirus-free. The station residents haven't had to mask up around each other, but Cassidy is well aware of the different circumstances on the surface of his home planet.

Some space fans commented on Cassidy's tweet to wish him a safe trip home, while others suggested he should try to stay up in orbit a bit longer. "You sure you don't want to put that off for another 1-12 months?" one Twitter user asked.

NASA TV will broadcast Cassidy's return journey, including the planned landing in Kazakhstan on Wednesday. At least he'll be prepared to navigate a world caught in an ongoing pandemic.