Russian space agency Roscosmos has denied claims that its three cosmonauts wore what appeared to be the colors of the Ukrainian flag as a potential statement against the ongoing war, according to a report from the BBC. The three cosmonauts, Denis Mateev, Oleg Artemyev, and Sergey Korsakov donned bright yellow and blue suits as they boarded the International Space Station on Friday.
Roscosmos was quick to dismiss any reports that suggest the cosmonauts wore the colors in solidarity with Ukraine. “Sometimes yellow is just yellow,” the agency wrote in a translated post on Telegram (via Space.com). “The design of the uniform was agreed upon long before current events.” The post says yellow and blue are the same colors in the emblem of Bauman Moscow State Technical University, the alma mater of all three cosmonauts. In a separate post on Telegram, Roscosmos shared an image of Artemyev wearing a yellow suit during his first flight in 2014.
…а космонавтов-выпускников Бауманского университета заставим ни при каких обстоятельствах не носить цвета герба их альма-матер, то они глубоко ошибаются))) pic.twitter.com/E0MkcqdVIS
— РОГОЗИН (@Rogozin) March 19, 2022
Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin similarly added that the three were representing their university, not Ukraine. “Under no circumstances will we force cosmonaut graduates of Bauman University not to wear the colors of the coat of arms of their alma mater,” he wrote on Twitter.
The cosmonauts didn’t indicate any meaning behind the colors during a livestreamed press conference after their arrival. Artemyev brushed off a question about the colors of their suits, jokingly saying: “It became our turn to pick a color. The truth is, we had accumulated a lot of yellow fabric, so we needed to use it up.”
All three cosmonauts arrived at the ISS aboard the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft that launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They were warmly received by their fellow German, Russian, and American crewmembers aboard the ISS despite the tensions between Russia and other nations.
One of those crewmembers is American astronaut Mark Vande Hei. A Russian spacecraft is set to bring him, along with cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov back to Earth on March 30th. Russia says it will bring Vande Hei back as planned, despite reports indicating otherwise.