Amidst the most severe tensions between Russia and the West, an all-Russian crew at the International Space Station (ISS) has been greeted with hugs and clapping.
Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov docked with their Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft at the ISS on Friday, live images from the US space agency NASA showed.
Shortly thereafter, they floated into the ISS and were greeted there by their colleagues - the Russians Anton Schkaplerow and Pjotr Dubrow, the Americans Mark Vande Hei, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron and the German Matthias Maurer - with cheers, hugs and handshakes , clapping, thumbs up and souvenir photos.
Yellow flight suits with blue patches
On Earth, the flight suits the cosmonauts wore also got people talking: they were yellow with some blue patches, the colors of the Ukrainian flag.
However, they did not express themselves verbatim.
Maurer, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on Friday, had already announced in advance that he wanted to invite the entire crew to a meal after docking.
"Of course I want to serve the best, a bit of Saarland food," said the Saarland native of the German Press Agency.
"I have to make sure I still have enough food here."
The astronaut left for the outpost of mankind on November 11 with three colleagues from the US space agency NASA.
He is the twelfth German in space, the fourth on the ISS and is scheduled to return at the end of April.
The three cosmonauts took off from the Russian cosmodrome Baikonur in Kazakhstan about three hours before docking.
This was shown by live images from the Russian space agency Roskosmos.
The rocket was seen rising into the night sky over Central Asia.
Cooperation in space travel burdened by war
In the past, unlike this time, a US astronaut or an astronaut from the European Space Agency Esa usually flew with Soyuz launches.
The US space agency NASA has been using US spacecraft to the ISS again for some time.
The sanctions imposed on Moscow for the attack on Ukraine have also weighed heavily on US-Russia space cooperation - even though both sides emphasize that they want to continue operating the station for the time being.
However, Roskosmos recently left the future of the ISS open after the contract expired in 2024.
NASA is aiming for a term until 2030.
The Soyuz launched on Friday bears the name of the Soviet rocket designer Sergei Korolev, who was born in Zhytomyr in 1907.
The city is now in Ukraine.
The crew of the ISS has a lot of work ahead of them in the coming days and weeks: On Wednesday (March 23), Maurer is to be the fourth German to leave the ISS for an external mission.
During the approximately six and a half hour mission around 400 kilometers above the earth, Maurer is to take over maintenance work together with his US colleague Chari.
Chari had already left for an outside operation with colleague Barron on Tuesday.
At the end of March, the US astronaut Vande Hei is to return to earth together with the cosmonauts Shkaplerov and Dubrov in a Russian Soyuz space capsule.Keywords: