US-Russian Crew on Space Station Had Warm, Personal & Professional Ties, Astronaut Vande Hei Says
© REUTERS / BILL INGALLS/NASAThe International Space Station (ISS) crew member NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei is seen outside the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft after he landed with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov in a remote area outside Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan March 30, 2022
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The joint US and Russian crew on the International Space Station (ISS) continued to enjoy warm personal friendships and smooth-running professional teamwork and cooperation throughout the unfolding Ukrainian conflict, returned astronaut Mark Vande Hei told a NASA press conference on Tuesday.
"My Russian crew mates [and I], we supported each other throughout everything," Vande Hei, a retired US Air Force colonel, said. "[They were] very good professionals, technically competent and wonderful human beings. I will always be happy I was in the space station with them."
Vande Hei said he paid no attention to arguments about US-Russian future cooperation or disagreements on social media back on earth and took such comments as meant for a different audience.
"I had full confidence in our cooperation," he said. "In every case, everyone was very supportive of each other. Being able to trust each is very crucial when you have a small number of people isolated. ... Our focus was on our mission together."
Vande Hei and his two Russian cosmonaut crew mates Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov returned to earth from the ISS on the Russian spacecraft Soyuz MS-19 on March 30 landing safely in Kazakhstan.