Last week, even the slight ties maintained between the United States and Russia were once again stretched to their breaking point as American forces targeted the Syrian base believed to be responsible for a chemical weapons attack carried out earlier in the week.  Russian and American government officials have taken turns lobbing sharply worded statements at one another since, with the Russians accusing America of violating international law by taking action and Americans accusing Russia of being complicit in the chemical attack that instigated the missile strike.

In both countries, the underlying threat of war seems real, despite numerous political and economic hurdles making such an outcome unlikely – and in many ways, the emotional atmosphere surrounding relations between Russia and the U.S. feels more than just reminiscent of the Cold War… unless of course, you’re one of the few Russians or Americans who benefit from an overhead view of the whole ordeal.

On Monday, two Russian Cosmonauts and one American astronaut left the International Space Station they’ve shared as their home for the past one hundred and seventy-three days and made the trip back to the troubled Earth below via Russian Soyuz capsule.  Shane Kimbrough of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko from Russian space agency Roscosmos wrapped up their nearly six-month stint on the space station just before 4 am and touched down southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 7:20 a.m. EDT.

Shane Kimbrough wasn’t immune to the events that took place on the surface of the planet below him over the past week – but was quick to point out that the efforts taking place on the Space Station are larger than pursuing the interests of individual nations.