Experienced Russian Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, who had just recently spent 195 days orbiting Earth, accidentally hit a colleague with his car outside the Roscosmos training center earlier this week, according to an official statement from the Russian space agency.
The statement posted to the official Roscosmos Telegram channel claims that, on Monday evening, Artemyev “did not notice” a person crossing the road near the Yuri A. Gagarin State Scientific Research-and-Testing Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City due to “conditions of limited visibility on a poorly lit road.”
As if to cut off any rumors at the pass, the statement emphasized “Artemyev was sober.”
The victim in this case was 63-year-old Anatoly Uronov. While the statement did not offer any more details on Uronov, Anatoly Zak—who writes for the Russian space blog RussiaSpaceWeb—described him as a project manager who works at the training center. Artemyev called medics to the scene and provided first aid, according to the statement. Uronov had several fractures and was hospitalized in the nearby city of Shchyolkovo. The Russian state space corporation has not revealed any more details about Uronov’s injuries or his current status.
As noted by Space.com, astronauts who are exposed to the microgravity of space for long periods find they need some time to cope after coming back down to Earth. A 2018 Nature study by Human Aerospace Laboratory researchers showed that, after spending six months in orbit, astronauts struggled with tasks requiring manual dexterity and experience “a striking degradation in the ability to operate a vehicle.” The study noted that skills and cognitive abilities usually returned to normal a few days after landing. The study’s authors advised NASA to have astronauts conduct self-assessments before declaring themselves fit for duty.
The 51-year-old Artemyev had touched down back to Earth on September 29 after nearly six months in orbit, giving him about 19 days between his Soyuz capsule touching ground and this car collision. Astronauts have previously described the descent in Russia’s Soyuz capsules “like a series of car crashes.”
Of course, there’s no hint that the accident was caused by any impairment. Artemyev had taken command of the International Space Station this May, and has spent a total of 561 days in orbit over the course of three missions, so it is not like this is the cosmonaut’s first time dealing with the rigors of adjusting to Earth’s gravity after spending months in space.
And it’s not like the cosmonaut is unused to high-pressure situations. Artemyev had previously dealt with a spacesuit malfunction during work to install a robotic arm on the ISS. He previously was a member of Expedition 39/40 in 2014, Expedition 55/56 in 2018, and the most-recent Expedition 66/67 in 2022.
Artemyev’s personal blog, where he has regularly posted notes, pictures, and videos about his space-bound adventures, has not yet mentioned the Monday incident. The cosmonaut was also known for keeping a regular stream of content updates going to his TikTok and YouTube channel.