It turns out that a rumor from March that the Russians might abandon an American astronaut aboard the ISS made its way to the astronaut in question in a roundabout way.
In an interview with the Washington PostNASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei said he learned about the rumor through his wife.
“I heard about it from my wife,” said Vande Hei, who holds the American record for the longest consecutive stay on the ISS at 355 days. WaPo. “Some of the hints were that my teammates might leave me behind. I laughed when I heard about it. I said, ‘Oh, there’s no way.’
The astronaut added that while he and NASA were not at all concerned that he would be left alone aboard the ISS amid tensions between the United States and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine by the latter, his wife was convinced.
“The hardest conversation wasn’t with my teammates,” he said. “It was with my wife trying to say, like, ‘There’s no way this will ever happen.'”
In the interview, Vande Hei defended his Russian crewmates and recounted an awkward situation aboard his previous ISS flight in which they watched an American movie together in which “all the bad guys were Russians”.
“It gives me chills even thinking about it,” he said, “because at one point I looked at my cosmonaut teammates and said, ‘What the hell are you makes you feel? And they said, “It’s kind of scary how everyone in the United States, mass media in the United States, portrays Russians as bad guys.”
It is clear that for Vande Hei, the average Russian — even the elite who becomes a cosmonaut — is far from the bogeyman portrayed by the American media.
His wife, however, seems to have needed more comfort.
READ MORE: How this astronaut approached US-Russian relations in space [The Washington Post]
Learn more about a cosmonaut who does not share Vande Hei’s solidarity: Cosmonaut quits because he doesn’t want to ‘work for the Americans’