Despite Recent Tensions, NASA and Roscosmos Sign Seat-Swap Agreement

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches on October 16, 2021.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches on October 16, 2021.
Photograph, SpaceX

It has been a rocky few months for US-Russia relations, with discord between the 2 nations arising each on the bottom and in area. Regardless of the present dangerous emotions, NASA and Roscosmos have finalized an settlement during which NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts will fly aboard one another’s spacecraft.

Announcement of the brand new settlement got here on Friday, July 15, the identical day that Dmitry Rogozin was dismissed from his place as director basic of Roscosmos. It is not clear if the dismissal of the ornery area chief is related to the brand new deal, nevertheless it does counsel that the 2 area businesses are discovering methods to work collectively regardless of tensions arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing financial sanctions.

Anna Kikina at Russia's Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center on July 8, 2022. The Russian cosmonaut is scheduled to fly aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon as part of a recent seat swap arrangement.

Anna Kikina at Russia’s Gagarin Cosmonaut Coaching Heart on July 8, 2022. The Russian cosmonaut is scheduled to fly aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon as a part of a current seat swap association.
Photograph, roscosmos ,AP,

For the settlement, US astronauts will journey aboard Soyuz capsules similar to they did previous to NASA’s Industrial Crew Program and the introduction of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. On the flip facet, Russian cosmonauts will get to strap themselves right into a Crew Dragon for the very first time. The primary of those 4 built-in crew flights, during which no funds can be exchanged between the area businesses, is scheduled for September. NASA/SpaceX and Roscosmos can be liable for transporting astronauts to and from the ISS and supply full mission assist, together with coaching, flight operations, touchdown, and rescue companies, in keeping with a NASA press launch,

The rationale for the built-in crews is to take care of secure operations of the orbital outpost, in keeping with NASA. ISS operations depend on contributions from 5 area businesses, the opposite three being the European Area Company, the Canadian Area Company, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Company (JAXA).

“Flying built-in crews ensures there are appropriately skilled crew members on board the station for important upkeep and spacewalks,” NASA mentioned in its assertion. “It additionally protects in opposition to contingencies reminiscent of an issue with any crew spacecraft, severe crew medical points, or an emergency aboard the station that requires a crew and the car they’re assigned to return to Earth prior to deliberate.”

NASA’s Frank Rubio, together with Roscosmos’s Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, are scheduled to launch aboard Soyuz MS-22 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 21. NASA’s Loral O’Hara is slated to launch aboard Soyuz MS-23 in spring 2023, on a mission that can embrace cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub.

Anna Kikina of Roscosmos, together with NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada and JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata, will participate in NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the area station, which is able to blast off from Launch Advanced 39A at Kennedy Area Heart in both September or October. Kikina, 35, is at the moment Russia’s solely lady astronaut, and he or she’ll be the primary Russian lady to go to the ISS in eight years, in keeping with the government-run Russia Past,

Cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev, together with NASA astronauts Steve Bowen and Woody Hoburg, will participate in NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission, which is focused for a launch in spring 2023.

So it is apparently enterprise as common in area, despite the fact that issues are very removed from common on the bottom. NASA appears prepared to miss Russia’s indiscretions, reminiscent of utilizing the area station to advertise its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, for the sake of sustaining regular and secure operations in low Earth orbit. It is smart, nevertheless it nonetheless leaves a bitter style.

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