Vande Hay said astronauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov were embroiled in a controversy over their astronauts’ costumes.
“All three of them are affiliated with the same university and I think they are kind of blind to see that,” he told a news conference.
Vande Hai said he was not ashamed to discuss the war with his ISS staff.
“They weren’t very long discussions, but I asked them how they felt and sometimes asked sharp questions, but our focus was together.”
His return from the ISS was highly anticipated and attracted unprecedented attention because of the escalating geopolitical tensions triggered by Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s space agency, who made several aggressive social media posts in the United States.
Part of Rokosin included a retweet of the animated video, which threatened that Russian astronauts would drop Vande Hay into space. Rogos’ Twitter got into a fight with retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who set the record for the longest stay by an American astronaut in space until Vande Hey surpassed him.
Vande Hai said he heard about the tweets from his wife. “I never took those tweets seriously,” he said, looking at tweets aimed at “different audiences” besides him.
“I did not expend much emotional energy to focus on it. I heard about it. I laughed at it and moved on,” he said.
NASA said, “The professional relationship between our international partners, astronauts and astronauts continues for the safety and mission of everyone on board the ISS.”
Russian employees ‘dear friends’
Vande Hey declined to comment on how the Russians on board felt about the invasion of Ukraine. “I want them to share directly, rather than sharing how they feel about it,” he said.
He described the invasion as “heartbreaking, very tragic” and said it was “powerless” to learn about it while living in space. Vande Hey said it did not change his feelings about his Russian staff.
“They have been very dear friends to me, are, and will continue to be. We supported each other in everything. And I have no worries about my ability to continue working with them.”
After landing after his record trip, Vande Hey said he was able to walk eight hours later, though he said he was limping.
He said he was delighted to eat guacamole for the first time in a year and was shocked at how normal it feels to return to Earth after a long stay in space.
“It’s a little disappointing how normal it feels.”
CNN’s Rachel Crane and Rose Levitt contributed to the report.
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