I'm watching CSA videos, and have watched numerous documentaries before, and have noticed that both Astronauts and Cosmonauts alike aboard the ISS tend to refer to something as either Russian, or American.

In a Chris Hadfield video, he refers to a towel as being a "Russian Towel", and numerous documentaries, other mundane objects as either being a "Russian object" or "American object".

Why bother noting the origin of the objects used upon the ISS? Is it because of international differences or is there some major cause of concern if not mentioned?

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    $\begingroup$ The towel might be as mundane as your discount store \$1 towel, but since it weighs some 300 grams, it costs about \$1000 to get it there. Is it $1000 out of NASA's pocket or out of Roscosmos' pocket? That's an important distinction the astronauts need to pay attention to. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ @SF. Fair enough. Nice explanation! $\endgroup$
    – user14355
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 5:56

1 Answer 1


It is because the two programs are separately managed and tracked to an extent that would astound the outsider. USOS crewmembers theoretically would have to ask for permission to use a Russian screwdriver; consumables from the two sides are even more obsessively managed. Casual sharing does go on but this produces headaches for the legion of logistics analysts on the ground who track such things.

So, whether an object is owned by the Russian or US program is a matter of deep concern to all, including the crew, and this concern becomes apparent in the way they think of and refer to things, as you noticed.

Consider the fundamental engineering differences between the two sides of the ISS: they do not even use the same voltage in their power supplies!

  • $\begingroup$ Would you know if the same Logistical Analysis is counted towards personal items carried along with Astro/Cosmonauts and items sent up by friends? $\endgroup$
    – user14355
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 5:58

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