(John Ransom, Headline USA) The head of the Russian space agency has threatened to leave behind an American astronaut in the ISS space compound, in orbit 227 miles above the earth, in retaliation for sanctions against Russia imposed by President Joe Biden over the Ukraine invasion.
“Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s Space Agency and a close ally to Russian President Vladimir Putin, responded to Biden in a series of hostile tweets. On Feb. 26, he posted a video in Russian that threatened to leave [US astronaut Mark] Vande Hei behind in space and detach Russia’s segment of the space station altogether,” said ABC News.
Господин Медведев, я возвращаю Вам российскую медаль “За заслуги в освоении космоса», которую вы мне вручили. Пожалуйста, отдайте его русской матери, чей сын погиб в этой несправедливой войне. Я отправлю медаль по почте в посольство России в Вашингтоне. Удачи. https://t.co/n8jMTX34pW pic.twitter.com/qpI1YNKps3
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) March 9, 2022
Vande Hei is supposed to return to earth via a Soyuz spacecraft along with his Russian colleagues at the end of the month.
“NASA continues working with Roscosmos and our other international partners in Canada, Europe, and Japan to maintain safe and continuous International Space Station operations,” wrote a NASA spokesperson in a statement, according to KSTP.com in Minneapolis.
“On March 30, a Soyuz spacecraft will return as scheduled carrying NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov back to Earth,” the statement vowed.
In announcing sanctions, Biden has threatened to work to degrade Russian space capabilities.
“We estimate that we will cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports, and it will strike a blow to their ability to continue to modernize their military. It will degrade their aerospace industry, including their space program,” Biden said, according to spacenews.com.
But the Russian threat to leave behind a US astronaut has outraged CDR Scott Kelly, a veteran of four spaceflights and the commander of three space station expeditions.
“Mr. Medvedev, I am returning to you the Russian medal ‘For Merit in Space Exploration’, which you presented to me. Please give it to a Russian mother whose son died in this unjust war,” Kelly said in Russian, addressing the deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev via Twitter.
“I will mail the medal to the Russian embassy in Washington. Good luck.”
Scott said that he knows and trusts many people with the Russian spaceflight program and he’s hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, which likely tells you how much he truly trusts the Russian government.
“I was just enraged that he, the [cosmonauts], said that they were going to leave an American crew member behind. I never thought I would ever hear anything so outrageous,” said Kelly, according to ABC News, which also reported that Kelly engaged directly with Rogozin.