Russian Astronaut Uses ISS to Take Photos of Ossetia Invasion while NASA Looks to the Other Side

According to the NASA International Space Station status report, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko used a digital camera with 800mm telephoto lenses and a video camera to take images of the "after-effects of border conflict operations in the Caucasus." In theory, this seems to have violated the non-military use clause of the station, but Russia has claimed "humanitarian motives."

The article 14 of the ISS agreement says: "The Space Station together with its additions of evolutionary capability will remain a civil station, and its operation and utilisation will be for peaceful purposes, in accordance with international law."

According to Russia, the photos were taken to "support potential humanitarian activities in the area, including serious water resource management issues" as part of the Russian "Uragan" project, which studies glaciers and water sources in the country. However, I don't remember all those tanks with reactive armour participating in any humanitarian activities in the area two days after the invasion, the day the photos were taken.

The whole thing smells quite fishy, but apparently NASA has preferred to avoid confrontation and not investigate the matter. Put your conspiracy hats on and give us your explanation in the comments. [Aviation Week]

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