NASA has made a statement in defense of one of its astronauts after Russia accused her of misconduct.
The Russian news agency TASS, which speaks with the authority of the Russian government, recently raised some eyebrows after it claimed that NASA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor had suffered an emotional breakdown aboard the International Space Station back in 2018 that had led her to deliberately damage a Russian spacecraft in an effort to expedite her return to Earth.
When NASA initially responded to the claim, it offered a surprisingly unconvincing defense of the astronaut, saying: “to protect their privacy, the agency will not discuss medical information regarding crew members.”
Now however, the space agency has offered a much more robust defense of Aunon-Chancellor.
“NASA astronauts, including Serena Aunon-Chancellor, are extremely well-respected, serve their country, and make invaluable contributions to the agency,” said Kathy Lueders, Chief of Human Spaceflight. “We stand behind Serena and her professional conduct.”
“We do not believe there is any credibility to these accusations.”
NASA has always been somewhat hesitant to criticise Russia due to its ongoing partnership with the country, however in this case it seems that Russia may have been looking to place blame on NASA to deflect attention away from its own recent technical issues.
Exactly what did happen aboard the station during the incident however remains unclear.