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SpaceX rocket takes a Russian to the International Space Station for the first time


Ensuring the operation of the ISS remained one of the very few topics of cooperation between the United States and Russia. This Wednesday, the co

Even as tensions between Washington and Moscow have been at their height since the start of the war in Ukraine, a Falcon 9 rocket from the American company SpaceX of billionaire Elon Musk took off on Wednesday to the International Space Station (ISS) from Florida , in the United States, with Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina on board.

This is the fifth regular mission to the ISS carried out by SpaceX on behalf of NASA, but the first to transport a Russian citizen.

The crew of Crew-5 is also made up of Japanese Koichi Wakata and Americans Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann.

The latter becomes the first Native American to go into space.

We're on our way to space!#Crew5 lifted off from @NASAKennedy at noon ET (1600 UTC) and is headed to the @Space_Station for six months of scientific discovery.

—NASA (@NASA) October 5, 2022

This long-planned astronaut exchange program was maintained in mid-July despite the very high tensions between the two countries since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February.

Two weeks ago, an American took off for the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

"Excellent support of Roscosmos"

Transporting the citizen of another nation is “a huge responsibility,” Kathy Lueders, associate administrator at NASA, told a press conference in late September.

Asked about the current relationship with the Russian space agency Roscomos, she said: “Operationally, we really appreciated the consistency of the relationship, even during a very difficult time geopolitically.

Nasa ISS manager Joel Montalbano also praised Roscosmos' "excellent support" for these joint flights.

Anna Kikina, 38 and an engineer by training, will become the fifth Russian female professional cosmonaut to go into space.

"I hope that in the near future we will have more women in the corps of cosmonauts," she told AFP in August.

A few days of handover with members of Crew-4

It will also be the first spaceflight for American astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, but the fifth for Japan's Koichi Wakata.

After a journey of about 30 hours, their ship will dock Thursday at the Station, which is evolving at an altitude of about 400 km.

Members of Crew-5 will join the seven people already on board (two Russians, four Americans, and one Italian).

Read also“Fuck off”: verbal sparring between Elon Musk and Ukrainian officials over the Russian invasion

A few days of handover are planned with the four members of Crew-4, before they are sent back to Earth.

Crew-5 must spend about five months in orbit, and conduct more than 200 scientific experiments, including more than 70 new aboard the flying laboratory.

Tensions between Moscow and Washington have increased considerably in the space field after the announcement of American sanctions against the Russian aerospace industry, in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

A floating cooperation

Russia thus announced this summer that it wanted to leave the ISS “after 2024” in favor of the creation of its own orbital station – without however setting a precise date for a withdrawal.

The director of manned flights at Roscosmos, Sergei Krikaliov, declared to him on Monday "hope" that the Russian government agrees to extend participation in the ISS after 2024. The Americans have already said they want to continue to operate the Station until 2030.

As things stand, the ISS cannot function without one of the two segments of which it is made up, one American, the other Russian.

The latter ensures in particular the maintenance 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, and charged NASA for places on board its rockets.

The loss of this monopoly represents a significant shortfall for the Russian space program.

The exchange of astronauts this year, which must be renewed in the future, is done without financial compensation.

Source: leparis

All tech articles on 2022-10-05

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