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As tension between US and Russia threatens the area of cooperation at International Space Station, two NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut returned to Earth winding up a six-month mission at the Space Station. NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos touched earth space safely.
The coming back of the astronaut comes with Russian and US officials investigating the appearance of a mysterious hole in the Russian spacecraft, which is docked at the orbiting station. The mysterious hole was detected in the month of August, which has caused air leak on the ISS, but was repaired immediately.
The chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, has said the investigators believed the small hole was not a manufacturing defect but has been deliberately made. ISS commander Feustel also has said if the crews are somehow involved, it is embarrassing for everyone.
Though NASA has clearly expressed doubts over the theory that the hole was the result of sabotage, “it does not necessarily mean the hole was created intentionally or with mal-intent”, the US Space agency said. ISS astronauts are planning to have another round of spacewalk to get more information on the hole in the month of November this year.
The International Space Station is one of the few important areas where there is a tight cooperation between the rivals Russia and the US, the cooperation that had until now remained unaffected but things seem to change now.
Though with the decision of leaving the space, the astronauts in the ISS hosted an emotional farewell for the returning astronauts. On their return to earth too, the crew were full of smiles, Russian Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, wrote ‘spasibo’ which means thank you in Russian and signed his name on the craft they return in chalk. While 53-year-old US astronaut Feustel, wrote in a tweet along with a photo of the sun taken from the ISS, “I have had my ‘glory days in the hot sun’ and now it’s time to come home”.
This was Feustel third mission in space, whereas 47-year-old Artemyev and 54-year-old Arnold had earlier served one mission each. Artemyev and Arnold have begun their journey in March this year with a blastoff from Baikonur and is particularly touching for Arnold, who in his debut mission in 2009 helped build the space station, where he has now spent 197 days.