In his first public comments since returning to Earth last week after that 355 days in space broke a recordOn Tuesday, Vande Hei said he was never worried about his safety at the station or about the Russian spacecraft that took him home with two astronauts.
“I don’t take these tweets seriously at all,” he said. “I had great confidence in him Our cooperation so far To take these tweets for anything but that they are intended for an audience different from me.”
For the Russian crew members who recently joined the space station He wears yellow and blue suits, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, said the clothing was not intended to be a political commentary. Instead, all three members went to the same university, yellow and blue being the color of the school.
The astronauts, he said, “had no idea that people would see that it was about Ukraine. … I think they were kind of shocked by it.”
As for the Russia’s invasion of Ukrainehe said, “It wasn’t a topic that I walked away from with my crewmates. The discussions weren’t very long. But I asked them how they were feeling and sometimes I asked specific questions. But our focus was really on our mission together.”
He said he spent nearly a year at the station, bonded with fellow crew members from the United States and Russia.
“They were, are, and will continue to be my dear friends. We support each other in everything. I had no qualms about being able to continue working with them – very good professionals, technical competence and wonderful human beings.”
The feeling seems to be mutual. at Leadership Change Ceremony Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov said last week before returning home, that while “people have problems on Earth … in orbit we are one crew.” Speaking in English, the Russian described the space station as “a symbol of friendship and cooperation and a symbol of the future of exploration in space.”
He thanked “my brothers and sisters in space” and praised NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn, saying he would be a “professional commander of the International Space Station.”
Vande Hei now holds the record for the longest single spaceflight by an American, a mark previously held by former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. Vande Hai said, as it has done with Kelly and the other astronauts, NASA will continue to monitor his health in the coming months and years to see the effect of spaceflight on his body.
After so much time in the weightless environment of space, he said returning to gravity has been a challenge. “I was able to walk on my own within eight hours,” he said, though he was “wobbly.” He said he was “still not comfortable”.
As NASA prepares for Send people to the moon For the first time in 50 years, he said he wanted his trip to be remembered as the record-breaking. I’m really looking forward to the next person to do something longer, walk away more and explore more, but I want this to be remembered as a stepping stone.”