The United States will resume joint flights to the International Space Station (ISS) with Russia “to guarantee the continuity of operations” despite the fact that it tries to isolate Moscow due to the invasion of Ukraine, the NASA space agency announced on Friday.
Two American astronauts will fly aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket on two separate missions, the first of which is scheduled for September. For their part, two Russian cosmonauts will go aboard SpaceX rockets for the first time.
The mission had been planned for a long time but the green light from Russia was lacking and it was not known what decision it would take after the outbreak of the war with Ukraine, at the end of February.
Over the last few weeks, NASA officials have reiterated their interest in seeing it happen.
The announcement came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin sacked the director of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitri Rogozin. Since the Russian offensive against Ukraine, the latter has made very hostile statements against the West.
“To ensure the safety of the International Space Station, protect the lives of astronauts, and ensure the continued presence of Americans in space, NASA will resume integrated flights on American and Russian Soyuz spacecraft,” NASA said in a statement.
American astronaut Frank Rubio will fly aboard a Soyuz rocket scheduled to take off on September 21, along with two Russian cosmonauts, while American Loral O’Hara will fly on a Russian spacecraft in 2023.
In addition, Anna Kikina – the only active female cosmonaut – will be part of the Crew-5 crew that will take off in September aboard a SpaceX rocket. Cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev will travel with Crew-6 in 2023.
Since the United States suspended the space shuttles in 2011 and until the first flight of the private firm SpaceX to the ISS in 2020, the American program was forced to send American astronauts to the ISS by buying seats on board from the Russian space agency. of Soyuz rockets.
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