As we await peace or war between Russia and Ukraine, US astronaut Leroy Chiao shared his thoughts about his cooperation with Russians at the International Space Station (ISS). He served as the copilot of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the ISS as well as the commander during Expedition 10. In his CNN editorial, he emphasizes the importance of continued cooperation at the station even when partners are on opposing sides during ongoing conflicts:
In the early 2000s, a few years after the Kosovo war, I started training for my ISS mission in Star City, outside of Moscow. Not long after I started training in Russia there were conflicts in and around the Balkans and I remember times when we would hear heavy Russian transport aircraft taking off all night from the air base next to us, bringing troops and materiel to the conflict zones. We Americans discussed these issues with our Russian friends in the training program and I learned one of the wonderful things about living in other worlds is you develop perspective. You don’t necessarily agree, but you can appreciate the viewpoints of the other side.
Let’s hope the two-nation relationship is not tested further in the weeks to come. I like the idea of international cooperation as well as maintaining healthy competition in the realm of space endeavors.