Russia-Ukraine war: 3 cosmonauts arrive at the International Space Station in yellow and blue suits

Three Russian cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station on Friday wearing yellow flight suits with blue accents, colors that appeared to match the Ukrainian flag. The men were the first new arrivals on the space station since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine last month.

Russian space company Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov successfully lifted off from Russia’s leased launch facility at Baikonur in Kazakhstan in their Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft at 8:55 p.m. Friday. They docked smoothly at the station just over three hours later, joining two Russians, four Americans and a German on the orbiting outpost.

Video of Artemyev taken as the spacecraft prepared to dock with the space station showed him wearing a blue flight suit. It was unclear what message, if any, the yellow uniforms they wore were meant to send.

When the cosmonauts were able to talk to their family on Earth, Artemyev was asked about the suits. He said each crew picks their own.

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“It became our turn to choose a color. But actually, we had accumulated a lot of yellow material, so we had to use it. That’s why we had to wear yellow,” he said.

Since the beginning of the war, many people have used the Ukrainian flag and its colors to show their solidarity with the country.

The war led to canceled spacecraft launches and broken contracts. Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has warned the United States should use “broomsticks” to fly in space after Russia said it would stop supplying rocket engines to American companies. However, many fear that Rogozin could jeopardize decades of peaceful off-planet partnership, including on the space station.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson played down Rogozin’s comments, telling The Associated Press: “It’s just Dmitry Rogozin. He gushes from time to time. But in the end, he worked with us .”

“Other people who work in the Russian civilian space program are professionals,” Nelson told the AP on Friday. “They don’t miss a beat with us, the American astronauts and the American mission control. Despite all that, in space we can have cooperation with our Russian friends, our colleagues.”

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei – who on Tuesday broke the US record for a single 340-day spaceflight – is due to depart the space station with two Russians aboard a Soyuz capsule for a March 30 landing in Kazakhstan.

In April, three more NASA astronauts and an Italian astronaut are scheduled to take off for the space station.

SEE RELATED STORY: Russia Continues Attacks in Ukraine, ‘Nightmare’ for Civilians; talks end without breakthrough

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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