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NASA astronaut says U.S.-Russia tensions did not affect ISS mission

The crisis in Ukraine may have ratcheted up tensions between the U.S. and Russia. But from the International Space Station earlier this month, those differences were looking pretty small. NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins spent 166 days on the space station, working closely with his Russian cosmonaut colleagues Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazansky. The three-man crew landed safely in Kazakhstan March 10, well aware of the east-west tensions affecting their countries. On Thursday, Hopkins said diplomatic rows on earth didn't affect the mission in space. (SOUNDBITE)(English) MIKE HOPKINS, AMERICAN ASTRONAUT WHO RECENTLY RETURNED FROM 166 DAYS ON THE ISS SAYING: "I returned to earth with two Russian cosmonauts and again those are my friends, I certainly count them as close friends, and so I enjoyed all my time with them." The U.S. has imposed sanctions on Russian officials over the Kremlin's handling of the political and military crisis in Ukraine. The

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