ISS: Former NASA astronaut responds to Russian threats
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Last month, when three Russian cosmonauts created controversy when they docked onto the international Space Station (ISS) wearing bright yellow space suits resembling the colours of the Ukrainian flag. The three cosmonauts, Denis Matveyev, Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Korsakov, appeared to be protesting against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine less than a month before.
However, these cosmonauts were actually all graduates of Bauman Moscow State Technical University, which has yellow and blue in its emblem, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei confirmed.
Mr Vande Hei is an American astronaut who spent a record-breaking 355 days in space and returned to eath with two cosmonauts on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
In a press conference, he said that the cosmonauts were surprised by the controversy and were caught off guard.
He said: “All three of them happened to be associated with the same university, and I think they were kind of blindsided by it.”
Mr Vande Hei also added that he would discuss the war in Ukraine with his fellow Russian crewmates.
He said: “They weren’t very long discussions, but I did ask them how they were feeling and sometimes asked pointed questions, but our focus was on our mission together.”
When the controversy first broke out, Russia was scrambling to give explanations as to why the cosmonauts were wearing outfits resembling Ukraine.
But Russia rejects that this has any connection to the Ukrainian flag, despite those being the colours that it consists of.
Roscosmos said that “sometimes, yellow is just yellow”.
The usual Russian space outfit is marked by a plain blue.
Mr Artemyev was asked about the choice of colour in a live-streamed press conference, who appeared to downplay the dress choice as a matter of convenience rather than a political statement.
He responded: “It became our turn to pick a colour.
“We had accumulated a lot of yellow material so we needed to use it. That’s why we had to wear yellow.”
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This comes as Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency threatened to leave the ISS.
In a furious Twitter thread, he announced that Russia would no longer cooperate with Western countries on board the ISS until the sanctions are lifted.
Mr Rogozin claimed that the sanctions were intended to “kill the Russian economy and plunge our people into despair and hunger, to get our country on its knees”.
He also added that the Western sanctions “won’t succeed in it, but the intentions are clear”.
He continued: “That’s why I believe that the restoration of normal relations between the partners at the International Space Station (ISS) and other projects is possible only with full and unconditional removal of illegal sanctions.”
Roscosmos ending its cooperation onboard the ISS sounds alarm bells for space experts, as Russian made modules constitute a critical part of the 400-tonne space station, without which the ISS could crash down to Earth in an uncontrolled manner.
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