Amid the heightened tensions between Russia and the West, a Russian crew on the International Space Station (ISS) has been greeted with hugs and applause.
Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov docked with their Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft at the ISS on Friday, as live footage from the US space agency Nasa shows.
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Shortly after, they floated onto the ISS and were greeted by their colleagues, the Russians Anton Schkaplerow and Pyotr Dubrow, the Americans Mark Vande Hei, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron, and the German Matthias Maurer, with cheers, hugs and handshakes. hands. , applause, thumbs up and souvenir photos.
On Earth, the flight suits worn by cosmonauts also caused a stir: they were yellow with some blue spots. This reminded observers of the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
According to the newspaper “Bild”, Artemyev explained that the crew should have chosen the clothes themselves. To then add enigmatic words: “We should choose a color. In fact, we had accumulated a lot of yellow material that we had to use. So we had to wear yellow.”
The Russian space agency Roskosmos has denied speculation that the yellow and blue suits have a connection to Ukraine. “In general, the choice is due to the fact that this is the corporate color of Moscow State Technical University,” Roscosmos spokesman Dmitry Strugovets told the Gaseta.ru news site on Saturday. “And the three crew members who arrived at the station yesterday are graduates of this university.”
Strugovets added that one of the three Russian astronauts, Oleg Artemyev, had already worn a yellow and blue suit in the past.
Maurer invites you to a birthday dinner
Maurer, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on Friday, had already anticipated that he wanted to invite the entire crew to a meal after docking. “Of course I want to serve the best, some Saarland food,” the Saarland native told the German Press Agency.
“I have to make sure I still have enough food here.” The astronaut left for the outpost of humanity on November 11 with three colleagues from the US space agency Nasa. He is the twelfth German in space, the fourth on the ISS and is scheduled to return at the end of April.
The three cosmonauts took off from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan about three hours before docking. This was shown by live images from the Russian space agency Roskosmos. The rocket was seen rising in the night sky over Central Asia.
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In the past, unlike this time, an American astronaut or an astronaut from the European Space Agency Esa used to fly with Soyuz launches. The US space agency Nasa has been using US spacecraft for the ISS again for some time.
Cooperation in space is highly charged
The sanctions imposed on Moscow over the attack on Ukraine have also weighed heavily on US-Russian space cooperation, though both sides stress they want to continue operating the station for now.
However, Roskosmos recently left the future of the ISS open after the contract expired in 2024. NASA is aiming for a mandate until 2030.
The Soyuz launched on Friday is named after Soviet rocket designer Sergei Korolev, who was born in Zhytomyr in 1907. The city is now in Ukraine.
The ISS crew has a lot of work ahead of them in the coming days and weeks: On Wednesday (March 23), Maurer will be the fourth German to leave the ISS for an external mission. During the approximately six and a half hour mission some 400 kilometers above the ground, Maurer will take care of maintenance work together with his American colleague Chari.
Chari had already left for an external operation with her colleague Barron on Tuesday. At the end of March, American astronaut Vande Hei will return to Earth together with cosmonauts Shkaplerov and Dubrov in a Russian Soyuz space capsule. (dpa)