Ex-astronaut Scott Kelly called out Russian space chief over “Joke” video showing American being left behind.
The current crew of the International Space Station is slated to leave March 30. In the wake of the conflict in Ukraine, the Russians produced a video that seemed to show they would leave an American astronaut behind.
On March 5, RIA Novosti, a media network owned by the Russian government, posted a video to its Telegram channel that it said was produced by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. RIA Novosti said the video “jokingly” depicts Russia withdrawing from the International Space Station (ISS) program.
In the video, the Russian cosmonauts wave goodbye to Mark Vande Hei, an American astronaut on the space station, before detaching the Russian segment of the space station and departing.
Perhaps the “joke” is funnier in the original Russian. The video led former U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly to call out the head of Russia’s space program.
“It kind of enraged me that the country that we had been in this international partnership for 20 years would take the time to make a video to threaten to leave behind one of the crew members they are responsible for,” Mr. Kelly said in an interview Thursday.
“They agreed to be responsible for his safety, getting him to the space station and getting him home. For me, that kind of just crossed the line.”
Mr. Kelly has logged more than 520 days in space on four space flights and holds the record for time in orbit by a U.S. astronaut, according to NASA. He has commanded the International Space Station on three expeditions.
Now it is officially being reported that the American astronaut will be returning to Earth as scheduled.
It was originally thought Mark Vande Hei – who has been in space for 355 days – might be left behind on the ISS due to heightened tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But it has been confirmed he will travel aboard a Russian capsule to Kazakhstan.
The American and two Russian cosmonauts will be brought back to Earth.
“I can tell you for sure Mark is coming home… We are in communication with our Russian colleagues. There’s no fuzz on that,” Joel Montalbano, Nasa’s International Space Station (ISS) programme manager said.
He admitted the astronauts were “aware of what’s going on” in the world, but they still work as a team.
Under international space law, astronauts from all nations must “provide all possible help” to other astronauts when needed, “including emergency landing in a foreign country or at sea”.
Given all the insanity that has broken out globally in the last year, Vande Hei may end up wishing he had stayed behind.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.