So how do Russian cosmonauts really feel about Russia’s battle on Ukraine?

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Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov participate in a news conference after docking with the International Space Station.
Enlarge / Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov take part in a information convention after docking with the Worldwide House Station.

Roscosmos

On Friday, three cosmonauts arrived on the Worldwide House Station, having launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Regardless of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and harsh Western sanctions, the Worldwide House Station partnership has remained intact to date. Operations between Roscosmos and NASA have been clean on Friday.

There was a shock, nonetheless, as cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, and Sergey Korsakov floated onto the area station and greeted their Russian, US, and European colleagues already on board. The brand new arrivals have been sporting yellow flight fits with blue highlights, a uniform that bore a robust resemblance to the flag of Ukraine.

The apparel raised lots of eyebrows, and it was not instantly clear why the cosmonauts wore the uncharacteristically yellow flight fits. Subsequently, there have been information tales and opinions expressed on social media that the cosmonauts had worn the fits in protest of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Whereas this appears attainable, it’s inconceivable. There are two major the explanation why. To start with, the flight fits for these missions are packed actually months prematurely of a launch, so they’d have needed to have been made in 2021, lengthy earlier than an invasion appeared imminent. Secondly, many—if not most—cosmonauts seem to help the invasion of Ukraine.

Listed below are three attainable explanations for the flight fits:

  • It is a coincidence: The official rationalization from the Russian area company, Roscosmos, is that “typically yellow is simply yellow.” Roscosmos famous that the three cosmonauts had all attended Bauman Moscow State Technical College, which has college colours just like the flight fits. That is the only rationalization and subsequently the most definitely. Working towards this concept is that the colour of the flight fits is way nearer to the yellow and blue of the Ukraine flag than the technical college.
  • It actually was a protest: If the cosmonauts have been really making an attempt to ship a sign to the Russian folks, sporting the colours of Ukraine could be a strong strategy to present solidarity. Throughout the post-docking information convention with Russian media, Oleg Artemyev was requested concerning the colour of the fits. In response, he joked about surplus yellow material. He didn’t point out the Bauman connection. Nonetheless, orchestrating the current fabrication of those flight fits, and getting them surreptitiously packed on board Soyuz throughout a late-load course of, would have required lots of traceable exercise in Baikonur.
  • Failed propaganda: Lastly, there’s a darker concept. It is attainable that the yellow flight fits have been a failed propaganda effort by the Russian authorities. As a Twitter person famous Friday, the launch date for this Soyuz mission was March 18, the day when Russia “celebrates” its annexation of the Crimean peninsula. It appears attainable {that a} ceremony had been deliberate to have a good time the Russian “de-Nazification” of Ukraine or another nonsense, however because of the failure of the Russian navy to shortly set up a puppet authorities, this “celebration” couldn’t happen on March 18.

We could by no means get a full and sincere reply, however the incident does elevate a much bigger query. How do the cosmonauts within the Russian area program really feel concerning the invasion of Ukraine? Do they even see it as an invasion?

It is unattainable to know for certain, however we are able to make some educated guesses. To start with, many Russian cosmonauts come from a navy background, so it is probably that they’d be sympathetic to navy actions. There’s additionally a convention of former cosmonauts leaving spaceflight and going into the Russian legislative meeting, the Duma. Maybe probably the most notable instance of that is Valentina Tereshkova, the much-heralded first girl in area, who has grow to be one in every of Vladimir Putin’s strongest backers within the Duma.

There’s additionally anecdotal proof to again the concept of cosmonauts supporting the battle. Many former NASA astronauts who flew on the station have remained in touch with their Russian colleagues. “Everybody that I do know or have heard of helps the battle,” one former NASA astronaut instructed Ars. “It is terrible.”

However not all cosmonauts help the battle. Whereas it could be very troublesome for an energetic flier to talk out concerning the battle, former cosmonaut Gennady Padalka made some attention-grabbing feedback within the Novaya Gazeta publication final week. Padalka isn’t just any cosmonaut, both, as he holds the file for probably the most time in area by any particular person, at a complete of 879 days.

In his feedback, Padalka famous that as a pilot within the Soviet Air Drive, he was taught to have the ability to “exactly distinguish and inform aside civilian infrastructure from navy targets, civilians from Military items, and navy actions from battle crimes.”

So it appears possible that the opinion of the Russian cosmonaut corps is blended towards the battle, with some in favor and a few not. That an energetic cosmonaut would really feel strongly sufficient to orchestrate a dangerous flight go well with swap seems unlikely. And if Artemyev and his colleagues truly did this courageous factor, why would they not say so clearly? Their bosses again in Moscow already would know the reality, and there could be penalties no matter what was stated in orbit.





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