NASA astronaut said the Russians’ flight suits weren’t a political statement

There were three Russian cosmonauts Not making a political statement when they boarded the International Space Station in mid-March He wears yellow-and-blue flight suits, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, according to a NASA astronaut who was on the station at the time to receive them.

“I think the people who wore these clothes had no idea that people might see that it had something to do with Ukraine,” said NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hee, who returned to Earth last week. “I think they were kind of shocked by it.”

During a press conference on Tuesday, Mr. Vande Hai said the colors are those of Bauman State Technical University in Moscow, which all the newcomers attended.

Mr. Vandy and Russian cosmonaut Pyotr Dobrov spent 355 days in orbit. They and another Russian cosmonaut landed in Kazakhstan after a short flight back to Earth in a Russian Soyuz capsule. While relations between the United States and Russia deteriorated on the surface after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the two countries continued to cooperate as usual in order to Bring astronauts home safely.

The US astronaut said he did not pay attention to aggressive posts on social media by Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s space program who shared a video suggesting that the Russians might corner Mr Vande Hee on the space station.

“Quite frankly, I heard about the tweets from my wife,” said Mr. Vande Hei. “I’ve never understood those tweets as anything to be taken seriously. I have had great confidence in our collaboration thus far to take those tweets as anything but something intended for an audience different from me.”

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He said that people at the station had already talked about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “It wasn’t a topic that I walked away from with my crewmates,” he said. “It wasn’t very long discussions, but I asked them how they felt and sometimes I asked specific questions.”

Mr. Vande Hey also said he trusted his Russian colleagues. “We supported each other in everything,” he said. “And I had no qualms about being able to continue working with them. Very good professionals, technical competence and great people.”

Mr. Vandy Hee’s 355 consecutive days in space set a record for the longest stay in orbit by an American astronaut. Physically, he’s still getting used to gravity again. “I’m still not comfortable,” he said. “But humans are highly adaptable. And I think that bodes well.”

But mentally, life is almost back to normal.

“I really thought I would continue with this unique perspective to appreciate all the new things about being on this planet,” said Mr. Vande Hei. “I’m a little disappointed with the way I naturally feel. I kind of wanted it to look a little more weird after I got back.”

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