Three cosmonauts join the International Space Station in overalls… yellow and blue

Yellow and blue, as on the flag of Ukraine where the bombardments continue, increasing every day the death toll and the damage caused by the Russian invasion. On Friday, a trio of Russian cosmonauts took off aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur base in Kazakhstan to reach the International Space Station (ISS).

A few hours later, they exited their ship one by one, sporting blue-patterned yellow jumpsuits instead of the usual blue outfit. A detail that did not escape those who followed the arrival on board of the three Russians, Oleg Artemiev, Denis Matveïev and Sergei Korsakov.

Look at the colors of their jumpsuits! Oleg, I knew you were the best“, tweeted Katya Pavlushchenko, Russian space exploration blogger. A message echoed by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who himself stayed aboard the ISS: “a new crew of cosmonauts has just docked with the ISS wearing yellow and blue. Nice to see“.

The detail also did not escape two other astronauts who also passed on board the ISS, the Americans Scott Kelly and Terry Virts who tweeted: “Wow. Just wow. Good game“.

Colors chosen voluntarily?

The crews of the International Space Station choose the colors of their suits themselves, several months before their expedition. In the majority of cases, however, they are of more neutral colors – white, light or dark blue – even if yellow would indeed have been used. for a Russian outfit a few years ago.

Is this a message for Ukraine? Here is all the question. In the images captured before takeoff in Kazakhstan, the three cosmonauts wore white and blue outfits. Asked at the arrival press conference, Oleg Artemyev explained that it was “their turn to choose the color“.

We had accumulated a lot of yellow matter so we needed to use it. That’s why we had to wear yellow“, he justified. An explanation which was not enough to silence the evocations of a possible link with the war in Ukraine. Speculations which strongly reacted to the Russian space agency.

Sometimes yellow is just yellow“, commented the Roscosmos press service calling it “invention“the allusion to the Ukrainian flag.”The flight suits of the new crew are made with the colors of the emblem of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University from which the three cosmonauts are all graduates“, he supported.

Seeing the Ukrainian flag everywhere and in everything is crazy“, he added. Dmitry Rogozin, boss of Roscosmos, who has already shown his support for the Russian invasion on several occasions, supported these claims on Twitter by sharing the emblem in question:

This same version was taken up later in a press release relayed by the Russian agency on Telegram where cosmonaut Oleg Artemiev declares: “There is no point in looking for signs or symbols hidden in our uniform. A color is simply a color. It is in no way connected to Ukraine“.

He also confirms the reference to the colors of their university, saying that the choice was made about six months ago, the time that the suits were sewn. Soon after, Roscosmos published a new photo of Artemiev wearing a white jumpsuit with the colors of the Russian flag. What are the rumours? Not so sure.

Oleg Artemiev, 51 years old and commander of Expedition 67, is an experienced cosmonaut who has already completed two long missions aboard the ISS in 2014 and 2018. However, this is a first for his two friends, Denis Matveïev and Sergei Korsakov, aged 38 and 37 respectively.

The trio joined on board the Americans Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Mark Vande Hei and Kayla Barron, the Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov, and the German Matthias Maurer. Three of them, Vande Hei as well as Shkaplerov and Dubrov, must leave on March 30 aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to return to Earth.

The European agency suspends its cooperation with Russia

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the extreme tensions are reflected even in space collaborations. Last week, Dmitry Rogozin, said that Western sanctions against Russia could disrupt the operation of Russian spacecraft, and thus cause the downfall of the ISS. From comments rejected by NASA.

“Nothing has changed in the last three weeks”said Joel Montalbano, director of the ISS program for the American space agency, taken up by AFP. “The control centers continue to operate without problems”, he continued, also confirming the return to Earth as planned of the American and the two Russians at the end of the month.

For its part, the European Space Agency (ESA) has decided to act the end of its cooperation with Russia for the launch of its ExoMars mission in 2022. It has “lamented deeply the human losses and the tragic consequences of the aggression against Ukraine”, “aligning completely with the sanctions imposed on Russia by its Member States”.

The mission, which aims to explore the planet Mars using an orbiter and a rover, was originally scheduled for 2020 and has already been postponed due to the pandemic. With this new setback, it is now seriously compromised, especially since the window of opportunity for the red planet only opens every two years.

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