They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that seemed to be the kind of statement the three Russian cosmonauts who had just arrived at the International Space Station were trying to send to choose their flight suits. They climbed to the station dressed in brilliant yellow with accents of blue – the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
The Russian invasion and subsequent US-led sanctions strained US-Russian relations and overshadowed decades of cooperation between the two countries in space exploration. The head of the Russian space agency “Roscosmos” Dmitry Rogozin recently suggested that US astronauts use “broomsticks” to get into space after his country stopped providing rocket engines to American companies.
However, the Soyuz MS-21 spaceflight mission continued as scheduled. Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov blasted off into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday, traveling just over three hours to the International Space Station on a six-and-a-half-month mission on the space station. It was the first Russian launch of a space crew since the country invaded Ukraine on February 24.
After docking with the International Space Station, the crew and several cameras already on board watched and snapped when the hatch opened and the three smiling astronauts in their bright yellow suits floated off.
There were four NASA astronauts, one ESA cosmonaut and two Russian cosmonauts on the ISS, so the arrival of the three new astronauts brings the total crew size on the ISS to 10.
After they circled the space station, the first thing they did was take pictures.
The entry of Russian cosmonauts to the International Space Station can be seen in the 33rd minute of this live broadcast from NASA:
Yellow and blue for cameras
Observers immediately noticed that Russian flight suits are curiously reminiscent of the Ukrainian flag, which has a simple blue and yellow design.
Yellow and blue flight suits were also front and center as the three Russian cosmonauts posed in front of the live camera for a virtual Russian press conference.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos also broadcast the ascent ceremony and conference.
Colors that speak louder than words
In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Ukrainian flag was raised around the world as a sign of solidarity with the country fighting to defend itself. When the astronauts were asked about their choice of flight suit, they curiously explained that they had a lot of yellow material.
“It’s our turn to choose a color,” said Artemyev. “But in reality, we had accumulated a lot of yellow material, so we needed to use it. That is why we had to wear yellow.”
With the world’s attention focused on the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, the choice of colors was supposed to be not A mere coincidence. Soon, photos of astronauts and flight suits started circulating on social media and were picked up by international media.
“The Russian cosmonauts didn’t say anything that would suggest their clothes were a political statement.” The New York Times Writes. “However, it seemed hard to believe that it was a coincidence.”
NASA ISS Program Director Joel Montalbano asked on Monday Whether rising geopolitical tensions on Earth could affect the multinational crew aboard the International Space Station.
“When you’re in space,” Montalbano replied, “there are no limits.” “You don’t see state lines or state lines.
“Teams keep working together. Are they aware of what is happening on the ground? Absolutely. But the teams are professional. They have been trained to do work, and they will do the job.”
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