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Despite Political Tensions, Russia Will Return American Astronaut from International Space Station

Despite Political Tensions, Russia Will Return American Astronaut from International Space Station

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.


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When you rattle sabers at somebody, you have to expect a little rattling in return.

I doubt they ever considered NOT bringing the American down

Subotai Bahadur | March 19, 2022 at 8:32 pm

Still, assuming that we get Vande Hei back safely, given relations between our two countries it would be rational [which rules out the current regime] for there to be serious consideration, and wargaming out options, of whether we want to place another American at risk on the ISS in the absence of an American delivery and retrieval capability. NASA cannot do so on a good day, with a downhill run, and a blazing tailwind. Perhaps SpaceX could develop and have such a capability on standby [which would require paying them]. The key thing is that the officials of a country we are not on the best of terms with have not “accidentally” made a “joke” about stranding one of our astronauts. It is reasonable to question whether Russia can be trusted.

It is not encouraging that this Wednesday Russia is expected to go into technical default on a bunch of American loans, with formal default 30 days from then. I can see an extortion attempt, and Biden going for it.

Subotai Bahadur

Unlike the American Intelligence assholes, the Russians appear to have their better angels.

Yea, they bring him back, but do they let him go home?

They have a sense of humor. Our Administration is filled with idiots like Joe and Kamala who are leading the stupid patrol.

Even Rooskies don’t like the stench of rotting meat at work.