NASA stands by its astronaut after incendiary Russian claims

NASA responded to personal attacks by Russia's state-owned media service on NASA astronaut Serena Aun Chancellor Friday afternoon. "NASA astronauts including Serena Aun Chancellor are highly respected, serve their country and make invaluable contributions," stated Kathy Lueders (chief of human spaceflight at NASA). We stand by Serena Aun-Chancellor and her professional conduct. These accusations are not credible, according to us. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson agreed with Lueders' statement shortly after he tweeted it. He said, "I fully agree with Kathy's statement." "I support Serena, and I will always stand by our astronauts." These statements of support are more than 24 hours after TASS, a Russian news agency that is widely distributed speaks with authority from the Russian government, made new claims about Aun Chancellor's conduct as an astronaut aboard International Space Station 2018. TASS claims that Aun-Chancellor suffered an emotional breakdown while in space, and that she then damaged a Russian spacecraft to allow her to return home early. NASA issued a weak statement on Thursday after Ars reported the claims. It did not exonerate Aun-Chancellor. NASA stated in part that it would not share medical information about crew members to protect their privacy. Advertisement Russia is a trusted partner in the International Space Station Project and NASA does not criticize Russia, even if they do so rarely. Officials at NASA knew that refuting these claims would aggravate an already complicated relationship with Roscosmos' political leaders, including Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the agency. Ars was told by two sources that NASA's leadership had become frustrated at the lack of support from NASA for Aun-Chancellor. NASA issued stronger statements Friday. Rumours circulated in Russian media at lower levels claiming that US astronauts were responsible for the hole in the Soyuz spacecraft, which caused the 2018 leakage of the space station. The TASS report was the first one to identify Aun-Chancellor and to reveal a private medical condition. It then made the incendiary claim she sabotaged the space station. NASA knew from the beginning that these claims were absurd. Ars spoke to a source who said that senior NASA officials were briefed about the matter in 2018. NASA's Houston-based space station program was able to determine that pressures started falling on the station in August 2018. They knew exactly where the US astronauts were located before and after the leak. The Russian segment was where the Soyuz vehicle docked, and none of the US astronauts were there. This data was not shared by the US with Russian officials.