In the midst of the war in Ukraine, the US takes a Russian cosmonaut to the ISS

In the midst of the war in Ukraine, the US takes a Russian cosmonaut to the ISS

Tensions between Moscow and Washington had increased significantly in the space field after the announcement of American sanctions against the Russian aviation industry in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

The United States will transport a Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station on Wednesday (October 5th) on a SpaceX rocket, a highly symbolic mission amid the war in Ukraine.

The only female Russian cosmonaut currently in active service, Anna Kikina is part of the Crew-5 crew, also made up of two Americans and a Japanese. This is the fifth regular mission to the Space Station (ISS) by SpaceX on behalf of NASA. Takeoff is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the weather is expected to be mild.

Strong tension between the two countries

Two weeks ago, an American flew to the ISS on a Russian Soyuz rocket. This long-planned astronaut exchange program has continued despite very high tensions between the two countries since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February. Ensuring the operation of the ISS has thus become one of the few issues of cooperation between the US and Russia.

Carrying a citizen of another nation “a great responsibility“, Kathy Lueders, deputy administrator at NASA, explained at a press conference at the end of September. When asked about the current relationship with the Russian space agency Roscomos, she said: “Operationally, we really appreciated the consistency of the relationship even in a very difficult time geopolitically.NASA ISS administrator Joel Montalbano said:Excellent support from RoscosmosThis is for codeshare flights.

Anna Kikina, 38, a trained engineer, will become the fifth Russian female professional cosmonaut to go into space. “I hope we will have more women in the cosmonaut corps in the near future.“, he told AFP in August. It will also be the first spaceflight for American astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, but the fifth for Japanese Koichi Wakata.

After a journey of about 30 hours, the ships will dock at the developing Station at an altitude of about 400 km on Thursday. Crew-5 members will join the seven people currently on board (two Russians, four Americans and an Italian). With four members of Crew-4, a handover of several days is scheduled before being sent back to Earth.

Crew-5 should spend about five months in orbit and conduct more than 200 scientific experiments, including more than 70 new flying laboratories. Anna Kikina will also be the first Russian to fly a Falcon 9 rocket designed by billionaire Elon Musk’s company.

SEE ALSO – US sends new ‘$625 million military aid’ to Ukraine

Russia wants to leave the ISS

Second, he intervened in the Ukraine-related debate on Monday, prompting his Twitter followers to vote on his proposal to resolve the dispute between Kyiv and Moscow. This meant, in particular, the cession of Crimea to Russia. Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany still responded on Twitter to go”to be seen“.

Tensions between Moscow and Washington have increased significantly in the space field after the announcement of American sanctions against the Russian aviation industry in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Russia has thus announced that it wants to leave the ISS this summer.after 2024in favor of the creation of its own orbital station – but without setting a firm date for its withdrawal.

Sergei Krikaliov, director of manned spaceflight at Roscosmos, told him on Monday “HopeThat the Russian government has agreed to extend participation in the ISS after 2024. The Americans have already said they want to continue operating the Station until 2030.

Currently, the ISS cannot operate without one of the two divisions it has created, one American and one Russian. Secondly, it provides maintenance especially in orbit, thanks to a propulsion system. Between 2011 and SpaceX’s first flight to the ISS in 2020, Russia was the only one able to transport astronauts there to the Station, blaming NASA for the locations on their rockets. The loss of this monopoly represents a major shortfall for the Russian space program.

This year’s astronaut replacement, which must be renewed in the future, is being done without financial compensation.

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