Cosmonauts 'Blindsided' by Hubbub Over Spacesuits

Mark Vande Hei says Russians weren't wearing yellow as statement on Ukraine during ISS arrival
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2022 6:20 AM CDT
US Astronaut: Cosmonauts' Yellow Outfits Weren't Ukraine Statement
In this screen grab from video, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Korsakov, Oleg Artemyev, and Denis Matveyev are seen after arriving at the International Space Station on March 18, 2022.   (Roscosmos via AP)

Last month, three Russian astronauts showed up at the International Space Station sporting bright yellow flight suits with blue accents—Ukraine's colors, leaving some wondering if the cosmonauts were making a statement on Russia's invasion of that country. Wonder no more, because that simply wasn't the case, American astronaut Mark Vande Hei now says, per CNN. Speaking at a Tuesday presser, Vande Hei revealed that Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev, and Sergey Korsakov were actually wearing the colors of Bauman Moscow State Technical University, the school they all attended, and were thrown by the hubbub that erupted over their uniforms.

The cosmonauts "had no idea that people would perceive that as having to do with Ukraine ... I think they were kind of blindsided by it," said Vande Hei, now back on Earth after spending a record-busting 355 days in space, per the Washington Post. Vande Hei conceded he did talk with his "very dear friends" in space over what was happening in Ukraine, but he noted those conversations were short, and he's not saying how the Russians felt about the war. "Our focus was on our mission together," he said.

ZDNet also reports on a recent Twitter tiff between retired astronaut Mark Kelly and Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia's Roscosmos space agency, in which Kelly slammed Russia's invasion, while Rogozin seemed to threaten that cosmonauts would abandon Vande Hei in space. "I never perceived those tweets as anything to take too seriously," Vande Hei said, calling the social media posts something "meant for a different audience than myself." He added, per CNN: "I just didn't spend a lot of emotional energy paying attention to it. ... I kind of laughed it off and moved on." (Read more cosmonauts stories.)

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