Russians’ Flight Fits Weren’t a Political Assertion, NASA Astronaut Says

Three Russian astronauts had been not making a political statement when they boarded the International Space Station in mid-March carrying yellow flight fits with blue highlights, the colours of the Ukrainian flag, based on a NASA astronaut who was on the station on the time to greet them.

“I believe the oldsters that wore them had no thought that individuals would understand that as having something to do with Ukraine,” mentioned the NASA astronaut, Mark Vande Hei, who returned to Earth final week. “I believe they had been type of blindsided by it.”

Throughout a information convention on Tuesday, Mr. Vande Hei mentioned the colours had been these of Bauman Moscow State Technical College, which all three of the brand new arrivals had attended.

Mr. Vande Hei and a Russian astronaut, Pyotr Dubrov, spent 355 days in orbit. They and one other Russian astronaut landed in Kazakhstan after a brief journey again to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule. Whereas relations between america and Russia deteriorated on Earth’s floor after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the 2 nations continued to cooperate as common to safely bring the astronauts home.

The American astronaut mentioned he had not paid consideration to bellicose social media postings by Dmitry Rogozin, the pinnacle of the Russian house program who shared a video that instructed the Russians may strand Mr. Vande Hei on the house station.

“Fairly truthfully, I heard concerning the tweets from my spouse,” Mr. Vande Hei mentioned. “I by no means perceived these tweets as something to take significantly. I simply had an excessive amount of confidence in our cooperation to this point to take these tweets as something however one thing that was meant for a unique viewers than myself.”

He mentioned individuals on the station did speak concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “It was not a subject I shied away from with my crewmates,” he mentioned. “They weren’t very lengthy discussions, however I did ask them how they’re feeling and generally ask pointed questions.”

Mr. Vande Hei additionally mentioned that he trusted his Russian colleagues. “We supported one another all through the whole lot,” he mentioned. “And I by no means had any issues about my capacity to proceed working with them. Superb professionals, technically competent and fantastic human beings.”

Mr. Vande Hei’s 355 consecutive days in house set a report for the longest steady keep in orbit by an American astronaut. Bodily, he’s nonetheless getting used to gravity once more. “I’m nonetheless uncomfortable,” he mentioned. “However people are very adaptable. And I believe that bodes effectively.”

Mentally, although, life is nearly again to regular.

“I actually thought that I used to be going to hold forth with this distinctive perspective of appreciation for all issues novel about being on the planet,” Mr. Vande Hei mentioned. “I’m slightly dissatisfied with how regular it feels. I type of wished it to appear more odd being again.”

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