The Russian cosmonaut will be accompanied by two Americans and a Japanese.
A rocket from the American company SpaceX took off on Wednesday bound for the International Space Station (ISS) in Florida, in the United States, with Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina on board, even as tensions between Washington and Moscow are at their height. beginning of the war in Ukraine.
This is the fifth regular mission to the ISS carried out by SpaceX on behalf of NASA, but the first to carry a Russian citizen. The crew of “Crew-5it is also composed by the Japanese Koichi Wakata and the Americans Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann. The latter becomes the first Native American to go into space.
Two weeks ago, an American took off for the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. The long-planned astronaut exchange program went ahead despite very high tensions between the two countries since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Ensuring the operation of the ISS thus became one of the few matters of cooperation between the United States and Russia.
Transporting the citizen of another nation is “a huge responsibility“, underlined during a press conference at the end of September Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA.
Asked about her current relationship with Russian space agency Roscomos, she said: “Operationally, we very much appreciate the consistency of the relationship, even in a very difficult time geopolitically.The head of the ISS at NASA, Joel Montalbano, also praised the “excellent support from Roscosmosfor these joint flights.
Anna Kikina, 38 years old and an engineer by training, becomes the fifth Russian professional cosmonaut to go into space. 🇧🇷I hope that in the near future we will have more women in the cosmonaut corps,” she told AFP in August.
It is also the first spaceflight for American astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, but the fifth for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. After a journey of around 30 hours, the ship will berth on Thursday at the station, which is around 400 km above sea level. Members of Crew-5 will join the seven people already on board (two Russians, four Americans and one Italian).
A few delivery days are planned with the four members of Crew-4 before they are sent back to Earth. The Crew-5 crew is expected to spend about five months in orbit and perform more than 200 scientific experiments, including more than 70 new ones aboard the flying laboratory.
Anna Kikina is the first Russian to fly on a Falcon 9 rocket, designed by billionaire Elon Musk’s company.
The latter interfered in the debate over the war in Ukraine on Monday, asking his Twitter followers to vote on their own suggestion for resolving the Kiev-Moscow conflict. This entailed, in particular, the abandonment of Crimea to Russia. The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany responded, still on Twitter, to go”be seen🇧🇷
Tensions between Moscow and Washington have increased considerably in the space field after the announcement of US sanctions against the Russian aerospace industry, in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Russia announced this summer that it wanted to leave the ISS.after 2024in favor of creating its own orbital station – without, however, defining a precise date for withdrawal.
Roscosmos director of manned spaceflight Sergei Krikaliov told him on Monday “have hope» that the Russian government agrees to extend participation in the ISS after 2024. The Americans have already said that they want to continue operating the station until 2030. At the moment, the ISS cannot operate without one of the two segments that make it up, an American one, the another Russian. The latter in particular guarantees 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 send astronauts there, and it made NASA pay for seats aboard its rockets. The loss of that monopoly represents a significant deficit for the Russian space program. The exchange of astronauts this year, which should be renewed in the future, is done without financial compensation.
SEE TOO – SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission arrived at the ISS