The International Space Station (ISS) saw an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts arrive on Wednesday, a rare sign of cooperation between the two countries.
Published: 09.22.2022, 12:16 p.m.
An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts arrived on the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday after taking off from Russia. This trip represents a rare sign of cooperation between Moscow and Washington in the midst of the war in Ukraine.
The Soyuz rocket with the crew on board took off at the scheduled time, 1:54 p.m. GMT (3:54 p.m. in Switzerland), tearing in a trail of fire the darkened sky of the Kazakh steppe, on the Russian cosmodrome of Baikonur.
The spacecraft, with American Frank Rubio of NASA and Russians Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitry Peteline of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, docked with the ISS about three hours later, the US space agency said in a statement.
This Russian-American mission comes at a time when relations are at their lowest between Westerners and Russia, which on February 24 launched its troops to attack Ukraine. In a major escalation of the conflict, President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of the population while threatening to use nuclear weapons.
Frank Rubio is the first American astronaut to go to the ISS aboard a Russian rocket since the beginning of the entry of troops from Moscow into Ukraine.
The crew must spend six months aboard the orbital laboratory, where they met Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemiev, Denis Matveïev and Sergei Korsakov, American astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren and Jessica Watkins as well as Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
The result of a collaboration between the United States, Canada, Japan, the European Space Agency and Russia, the ISS is divided into two segments: one American and one Russian.
The ISS currently depends on a Russian propulsion system to maintain its orbit, some 400 kilometers above sea level, while the American segment handles electricity and life support systems.
After Wednesday’s flight, Anna Kikina, Russia’s only female cosmonaut in active service, is due to travel to the orbital laboratory for the first time in early October aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from the American company SpaceX, and its Crew Dragon capsule. .
She will be the fifth professional Russian female cosmonaut to go into space, and the first Russian to fly aboard a ship from billionaire Elon Musk’s firm.
Moscow wants to leave the ISS
Space tensions rose after Washington announced sanctions against Russia’s aerospace industry, prompting warnings from Russia’s former space chief and unconditional supporter of the intervention in Ukraine, Dmitry Rogozine.
Mr Rogozin’s recently appointed successor, Yuri Borissov, later confirmed Russia’s decision to leave the ISS after 2024 in favor of establishing its own orbital station. However, he has not set a specific date. The US space agency called the move an “unfortunate development” that will hamper scientific work on the ISS.
According to experts in the field of space, the construction of a new orbital station could take more than ten years in Moscow and the Russian space industry, which has been the pride of the country since the days of the USSR, could not survive. thrive under heavy penalties.