Astronaut Tim Peake was scared that he would be stuck in space if relations between the UK and Russia worsened.
Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had reassured him when they met during the European Games in Azerbaijan in 2015 that Peake would not be left abandoned on the International Space Station.
Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate on Anglo-Russian relations, Ellwood said he had expressed his concern to Putin, saying “that a friend of mine had cause to use Russian transport and was a bit concerned about international developments – the East and West – and he might get stuck at the end of his destination and not be able to get back. That friend of mine was called Tim Peake, he was using a Soyuz space capsule to get himself up to the International Space Station and didn’t want to be abandoned up there.”
Peake was sent into space, where he will be on board the International Space Station for six months, aboard a Russian Soyuz FG rocket, as reported by the Daily Mail.
“Mr Putin grabbed my arm,” Ellwood said, “and said, ‘Mr Ellwood, tell Mr Peake we will not abandon him’. And that gives you an indication to say that it is possible to isolate some of these enormous concerns that we have, the sanctions that take place, that allow us to work on the international stage to tackle some of these areas, but also culturally and professionally and indeed from an industrial perspective, commercial perspective, to be able to continue these relationships.”
During the debate, Ellwood emphasized on the importance of better relations between the U.S. and Russia, saying that “it is possible to isolate some of these enormous concerns that we have, the sanctions that take place…to be able to continue these relationships.”
Matters on terra firm have in the past known to affect spacemen and astronauts, International Business Times reports. Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev was sent into space by the Soviet Union in 1992, but due to problems related to budget in his country he was stuck at the space station. He returned 10 months later to Kazakhstan, which by then was an independent country.