Russian cosmonauts wear Ukraine colours onboard ISS
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Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev will perform a spacewalk from the International Space Station (ISS) today. The cosmonauts are set to leave the Poisk module’s airlock at around 3:30pm this afternoon. During their six-and-a-half hour excursion, the two men will activate the European robotic arm (ERA), the station’s third robotic arm. The ERA will be part of the space lab’s Russian segment for payload and spacewalk operations.
Roscosmos Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov will assist his crewmates by helping them in and out of their Orlan spacesuits.
Mr Artemyev and Mr Matveev’s spacewalk is their second of two to set up the mechanism outside the Russian Nauka multipurpose module.
When the three cosmonauts arrived at the ISS in March this year, their flight suits caused a stir.
The Russians’ yellow garments with blue accents were interpreted by some as a show of support for Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin had launched Russia’s invasion of its former Soviet neighbour just weeks earlier.
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However, one of the cosmonauts suggested that they were not quietly protesting the Russian President’s war from space.
Mr Artemyev clarified the situation as he and his crewmates spoke to their families back on Earth.
The cosmonaut claimed that every crew chose their own suits and they had opted for yellow due to convenience.
He said: “It became our turn to pick a colour.
“But, in fact, we had accumulated a lot of yellow material, so we needed to use it. So that’s why we had to wear yellow.”
The clarification came after thousands of people had already been arrested at anti-war protests in Russia.
Putin’s authoritarian regime is notorious for cracking down on any signs of opposition to the Kremlin.
Following the yellow suits incident, Roscosmos’ press service also addressed the issue.
A spokesperson said on its Telegram channel: “Sometimes yellow is just yellow.
“The flight suits of the new crew are made in the colours of the emblem of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, which all three cosmonauts graduated from.
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“To see the Ukrainian flag everywhere and in everything is crazy.”
NASA’s Mark Vande Hei told a press conference earlier this month that the cosmonauts did not expect such interest in the colour of their flight suits.
He said: “All three of them happened to be associated with the same university, and I think they were kind of blindsided by it.”
The astronaut also admitted he did refrain from talking about Russia’s invasion with his fellow ISS crewmates.
He said: “They weren’t very long discussions.
“But I did ask them how they were feeling and sometimes asked pointed questions, but our focus was on our mission together.”
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