Three astronauts go to the International Space Station wearing overalls… yellow and blue.

Yellow and blue, as in the flag of Ukraine, where the shelling continues, increasing every day the death toll and the damage caused by the Russian invasion. On Friday, a trio of Russian cosmonauts flew aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station (ISS).

A few hours later, one by one, they left their ship, dressed in yellow overalls with blue patterns instead of the usual blue. A detail that did not escape those who followed the arrival of three Russians on board: Oleg Artemiev, Denis Matveev and Sergei Korsakov.

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

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

Are the colors chosen voluntarily?

The crews of the International Space Station choose the colors of their spacesuits months before their expedition. However, in most cases, they are more neutral colors – white, light or dark blue – even if yellow were actually used. for a Russian outfit a few years ago.

Is this a signal for Ukraine? That’s the whole question. In pictures taken before takeoff in Kazakhstan, the three cosmonauts were dressed in more “classic” white and blue clothing. Answering a question at a visiting press conference, Oleg Artemiev explained that “it’s their turn to pick a color“.

We had accumulated a lot of yellow stuff, so we had to use it. That’s why we had to wear yellow“, – he justified himself. An explanation that was not enough to drown out hints of a possible connection with the war in Ukraine. Speculation, to which the Russian space agency reacted sharply.

Sometimes yellow is just yellow“- commented the press service of Roscosmos, calling it “invention“a hint of the Ukrainian flag.”The flight suits of the new crew are made in the colors of the MSTU emblem. Bauman, whose graduates are all three cosmonauts.“, he supported.

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

This same version was later picked up in a press release given by the Russian agency to Telegram, where cosmonaut Oleg Artemiev states: “There is no point in looking for signs or symbols hidden in our uniforms. Color is just color. He has nothing to do with Ukraine“.

He also confirms the mention of their university colors, saying that the choice was made about half a year ago when the suits were made. Shortly thereafter, Roskosmos published a new photo of Artemyev in a white jumpsuit in the colors of the Russian flag. What are the rumors? Not sure.

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

The trio were joined on board by the Americans Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Mark Vande Hey and Kayla Barron, the Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov and the German Matthias Maurer. Three of them, Vande Hey, as well as Shkaplerov and Dubrov, are due to fly out on the Soyuz spacecraft on March 30 to return to Earth.

European agency suspends cooperation with Russia

With the start of the war in Ukraine, extreme tensions even affected space cooperation. Last week, Dmitry Rogozin said that Western sanctions against Russia could disrupt the operation of Russian spacecraft and thereby lead to the fall of the ISS. Comments rejected by NASA.

“Nothing has changed in the last three weeks”Joel Montalbano, director of the ISS program at the US Space Agency, said. “Control centers continue to work without problems”, he continued, also confirming the planned return to Earth of an American and two Russians at the end of the month.

For its part, the European Space Agency (ESA) has decided to end cooperation with Russia to launch its ExoMars mission in 2022.mourned deeply human losses and tragic consequences of the aggression against Ukraine”, “fully consistent with the sanctions imposed against Russia by its member states”.

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

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