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ISS crew hug, take selfie to say ‘No' to politics and Ukraine tension in space

Published time: May 27, 2014 18:07
Edited time: May 27, 2014 18:58
International Space Station crew members (L-R) Alexander Gerst of Germany, Maxim Surayev of Russia and Reid Wiseman of the U.S. hug one another at a news conference behind a glass wall at Baikonur cosmodrome May 27, 2014 (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

International Space Station crew members (L-R) Alexander Gerst of Germany, Maxim Surayev of Russia and Reid Wiseman of the U.S. hug one another at a news conference behind a glass wall at Baikonur cosmodrome May 27, 2014 (Reuters / Shamil Zhumatov)

Political tension may be running high, but let's get real – friends will be friends, especially if they have a common cause for the whole of humanity. This was the message of a Russian-US-German crew of astronauts in the run-up to a joint trip to space.

A Russian, an American, and a German space traveler gathered Tuesday for a joint press conference in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. And no – this is not the beginning of another joke on nationalities, but the actual crew list of the 40th International Space Station (ISS) astronauts, who are due to be launched into space on May 28.

While space has long remained politics-free, NASA’s Reid Wiseman, ESA’s Alexander Gerst, and commander Maksim Suraev of Russia’s Roscosmos could not escape questions on how their personal relations have been affected by the tensions between the world powers on Ukraine, which have already endangered US-Russian space cooperation.

“Because of the events in Ukraine that we all know about, the relationship between the United States, Russia and Germany became pretty tense. Do you feel this tension on the level of your team?” a journalist from Russian TV channel NTV asked the crew of three.

Instead of going into detail, the three astronauts stood up and hugged each other.

“This is our answer,” astronaut Wiseman said in Russian.

“Yes, this is our answer for everyone to see,” cosmonaut Suraev added.

The commander then gathered his crew for a collective selfie, promising that they will all be tweeting from orbit.

Gerst also gave an insight on the trio’s relations, answering a question from a German journalist.

“I think it means a lot if you look at our crew as not just a team of three different guys from three different nationalities or continents – we are actually a group of friends,” Gerst said.

Not only did the three spend years training together, but they have also spent much of their free time together, including at Suraev’s dacha. Even the astronauts’ families know each other well, the German geophysicist revealed.

“Space is without borders, we fly to an international space station where we do experiments that come back to Earth and benefit all of us – they benefit all humankind,” he said.

Adding to the connection and mutual respect amongst the crew members is the fact that the Russian and the American both used to serve as Air Force pilots.

“I really wish I had met Max 500 knots at the merge, [as] he was flying a Su-27 and I was flying F-14, ‘cause that would have been a lot more fun,” Wiseman said jokingly.

The crew is scheduled to blast off to space in a Soyuz TMA-13M rocket on Wednesday and will take part in ISS Expedition 40/41. They will spend some six months in orbit, returning back to Earth in November.

The trio’s backup crew is equally international, consisting of Russia's Anton Shkaplerov, America's Terry Wirts, and Italy’s Samantha Cristoforetti.

Comments (32)

 

Jake Blüm 28.05.2014 17:43

MPA 28.05.2014 17:00

@Jake Blüm
Based on your comment, you are either Obama trying to reassure Americans that they live in the greatest country of the world, or just some mindless, ignorant fool being taken for a ride.
.

  


I'm far from an Obama supporter. And I was referring to the Russian ban on curses in film and all media which is a uniquely authoritarian phenomenon. All in all, you won't see the U.S. invading states and holding farcical "referendums&qu ot; for the good of the motherland. Ever. You can call me ignorant, but we both know who the majority of ignorant state-media lovers are.

 

Jake Blüm 28.05.2014 17:39

MPA 28.05.2014 16:58



I guess you haven't heard about the sovereign nations like Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan etc. Seriously?!?! Don't act like the US doesn't do the exact same thing.


  


Very different scenarios. For the record, I opposed intervention in Libya and it was predictably disastrous. Afghanistan was a necessary war. We were attacked and that was a haven of terror, I.E. Chechnya's islamist criminals. We didn't annex Iraq, unlike Russia's recent moves. We're not in Iran, and Syria is a proxy war with most global powers intelligence forces therein.

 

MPA 28.05.2014 17:00

@Jake Blüm

Lastly, the BS propaganda that your media and politicians tell you actually sickens me, I highly recommend that Americans should travel outside the country and see how other countries do it.

Based on your comment, you are either Obama trying to reassure Americans that they live in the greatest country of the world, or just some mindless, ignorant fool being taken for a ride.

Enjoy life, Im hoping you will respond to these. It will be interesting to see what you have to say.

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