Poor Russian Judgement Threatens International Incident in Space

Terry Virts, former International Space Station Commander and a NASA astronaut himself discussed the misreported, yet actually revealed poorly timed humor of Russian Space Agency Head Dmitry Rogozin in an interview by Fox News.

Though the incident was misreported in that interview, Former commander Virts explains how this recently reported threat by Rogozin to leave the American Astronaut, Mark Vande Hei, on the ISS is not uncharacteristic of Mr. Ragozin who in the 2014 Crimea conflict, when Russia then also faced sanctions, told Mr. Virts,  “they could take a trampoline to get to the space station”. 

Through his clearly not funny statements, Mr. Ragozin seemingly is using humor to make his political point. This demonstrated careless use of humor could have caused an international incident.

The misinformation stems from a recent video posted on 2/26/22 which was shared by a Kremlin-aligned publication, RIA Novosti, according to reports by Ars Technica. The television station of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos TV,  apparently provided the footage for the video but seemingly purported that the video was a “joke”.

In the video Mr. Ragozin can be seen loosely laughing as he jokingly infers that Russia might go so far as to detach its portion of the ISS from the American side of the space station, in addition to the misreported threat to leave Vande Hei behind. In this video Ragozin demonstrates a cavalier sense of unprofessional leadership using an obviously poor choice of timing and humor to do so.

Although former Commander Virts states he believes that the Russians will indeed cooperate by bringing US Astronaut Mark Vande Hei back at the end of he month, he does indicate that the game plan for the Russian invasion of the Ukraine is much different, adding that this recent Ukraine conflict is “unlike anything that’s ever happened” and that he “hopes (the US) can keep the space station partnership together”.

The current actual plan is for Vande Hei to land in Kazakhstan on March 30, 2022 along with two Russian cosmonauts, Flight Engineer Pyotr Dubrov and Commander Anton Shkaplerov, aboard the Soyuz MS-19 crew ship, a Russian vessel which was reported by https://www.livescience.com

Hopefully this situation turns out to be no Russian joke because using the ISS for threats, even in jest, is no laughing matter.

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