Claim: This week, news outlets reported that the head of Russia’s Space Agency, Dmitry Rogozin, threatened to leave American astronaut Mark Vande Hei — the record-holder for the longest spaceflight — aboard the International Space Station (ISS) rather than allowing him to return to Earth on a Russian spacecraft.
The report states that Russia’s space program has “apparently threatened” to leave an American astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
This is coming amidst United States’ sanctions against Russia over the ongoing invasion in Ukraine.
Rogozin had posted a video on Twitter which features up-beat music with the lyric ‘Farewell’ as the two cosmonauts on board the ISS with Vande Hei wave him goodbye and detach Russia’s segment of the station – which would send it spiralling to Earth.
Mark Vande Hei, a married 55-year-old father of two from Texas, is scheduled to return to Kazakhstan from the International Space Station (ISS) with two Russian cosmonauts aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on March 30 after spending nearly a year on board.
Findings by PRNigeria reveals that the claim stems from a video posted on Feb. 26, which was shared by a Kremlin-aligned publication, RIA Novosti, according to Ars Technica.
RIA Novosti captioned it: ‘The Roscosmos television studio jokingly demonstrated the possibility of Russia withdrawing from the ISS project — the undocking of the Russian segment of the station, without which the American part of the project cannot exist,’ according to a translation from Newsweek.
The same video also jokingly suggests 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 stranding Vande Hei.
On Friday (March 11), a NASA spokesperson assured The StarTribune that “On March 30, a Soyuz spacecraft will return as scheduled carrying NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov back to Earth.”
And even if Rogozin’s threat to leave Vande Hei on the station was legitimate — which it’s not — American astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron and Thomas Marshburn, as well as German astronaut Matthias Maurer are all on the ISS, too, Ars Technica reported. So in any case, Vande Hei would be able to catch another ride back to Earth.
Mark Vande Hei is due to return from International Space Station on March 30 on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft after he began his mission on April 9, 2021,
This week, news outlets reported that the head of Russia’s Space Agency threatened to leave American astronaut Mark Vande Hei — the record-holder for the longest spaceflight — aboard the International Space Station (ISS) rather than allowing him to return to Earth on a Russian spacecraft.
Verdict: Russia Space Station did not officially threaten to strand American Astronaut, Vande Hei in space or abandone the ISS. Roscosmos TV, the television station of the Russian Federal Space Agency, provided footage for the video but noted that the video was a “joke,” Ars Technica reported.
Conclusion: Roscosmos TV dubbed the footage a “joke” and publicly available official statements do not suggest the threat is real. There is no sufficient evidence to the claim that Moscow has threatened to abandon ISS or the American Astronaut.