Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week, the U.S. and European countries imposed sanctions on the country, siding with Ukraine.
But Russia’s response to the sanctions included that there could be a crash of the International Space Station in the Indian Ocean, and now, Moscow has removed from its rocket all flags of countries except for India’s tricolor.
The flags that have been removed are those of the countries who are participating in a space program called OneWeb whose launch is scheduled for Friday from the Baikonur launchpad.
Russian space agency Roscosmos also announced that it would not be launching three dozen internet satellites of OneWeb as planned on March 4 unless the company meets new demands from Russia, which include removing the United Kingdom from the project. As OneWeb rejected Russia’s demands, the launch of the rockets is now uncertain.
In a video posting, Russian space agency Roscosmos chief Dimitry Rogozin said in Russian, “The launchers at Baikonur decided that without the flags of some countries, our rocket would look more beautiful.”
The space agency’s officials could be seen at the Baikonur launchpad pasting white vinyl sheets over the flags on the Soyuz rocket, which covered them entirely.
The Soyuz rocket is carrying 36 satellites from several different countries, and is set to be part of the satellite-based internet connectivity system that will be provided all over the globe under the OneWeb program.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine followed several months of tension along the countries’ border as Russia demanded that its neighbor never be given entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: LIVEMINT.COM