Three Russian cosmonauts caused a stir yesterday when they arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) wearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev, and Sergey Korsakov arrived at the ISS on Friday, March 18 at 3:12 p.m. ET wearing flight suits in yellow with blue accents, which has been taken as a show of support for Ukraine. They arrived on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, the first set of Russian cosmonauts to arrive at the ISS since the invasion of Ukraine began.
In a question and answer section during the welcoming ceremony for the newly arrived cosmonauts, commander Oleg Artemyev was asked about the color of the suits they were wearing. He stated that each crew can choose their own colors, as reported by the Guardian. And according to a translation provided by a viewer on Twitter, he added humorously that they chose yellow because there was lots of spare yellow fabric available in the warehouse.
But many observers are taking the choice of colors to be a tacit statement of support for Ukraine. Space expert Eric Berger described the colors as “not subtle”, and former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly also weighed in, writing on Twitter that the Russian cosmonauts were wearing “Ukrainian yellow.”
Три российских космонавта, только что пристыковавшиеся к Международной космической станции, прибыли в украинском желтом!
Three Russian cosmonauts who just docked with the ISS arrive in Ukrainian yellow! pic.twitter.com/mJGRKuzV5v
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) March 18, 2022
Other observers have disagreed that the choice of color has anything to do with Ukraine, however. Space.com points out that the colors of yellow and blue are similar to the colors of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University where all three of the cosmonauts studied. And Artemyev has been pictured in this color combination before. On the other hand, people in Russia have been using this color combination as a way to show support for Ukraine.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had serious impacts on the international space community, with the European Space Agency suspending its joint ExoMars mission with Roscosmos, and the relationship between Roscosmos and NASA becoming more strained.
Despite these tensions, however, the ISS continues to operate with cooperation between Roscosmos, NASA, ESA, and other space agencies. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei will be leaving the station at the end of this month on a Russian Soyuz craft along with cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Russia Pyotr Dubrov.
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