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Elon Musk’s SpaceX to fly Russian cosmonaut to International Space Station: NASA


A Russian will be launched to the International Space Station in September aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon — the first time ever that Elon Musk’s company will transport a cosmonaut on one of its capsules.

Anna Kikina will depart from Kennedy Space Center in Florida this fall alongside two American astronauts and one from Japan, NASA announced.

The US space agency recently signed an agreement with its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, to exchange flights to the ISS. That means American astronauts will fly to the ISS aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin fired Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin, who had gotten into a Twitter spat with Musk in the days and weeks following the invasion of Ukraine.

“The agreement is in the interests of Russia and the United States and will promote the development of cooperation within the framework of the ISS program,” Roscosmos said in a statement to Reuters over the weekend.

The agency added that it will facilitate the “exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes.”

NASA and Roscosmos, the two-decade-old space station’s core partners, have sought for years to renew routine integrated crewed flights as part of the agencies’ long-standing civil alliance, now one of the last links of cooperation between the United States and Russia as tensions flare over the war in Ukraine.

Kikina will join two American astronauts and a Japanese astronaut aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon, which will take off from Kennedy Space Center in September.
Anna Kikina will join two American astronauts and a Japanese astronaut aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon, which will take off from Kennedy Space Center in September.
AP

The first integrated flights under the new agreement will come in September, NASA said, with US astronaut Frank Rubio launching to the space station from the Moscow-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan alongside two cosmonauts, Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin.

The two agencies had previously shared astronaut seats on the US shuttle and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

After the shuttle’s retirement in 2011, the US relied on Russia’s Soyuz for sending American astronauts to the space station until 2020, when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule revived NASA’s human spaceflight capability and began routine ISS flights from Florida.

Kikina, an engineer and the only woman in Russia’s active cosmonaut corps, is set to be the first Russian to fly SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule.

NASA and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, reached an agreement to allow US and Russian astronauts to board each other's respective rockets that will take them to the ISS.
NASA and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, reached an agreement to allow US and Russian astronauts to board each other’s respective rockets that will take them to the ISS.
REUTERS

She has been training for the mission at NASA’s astronaut headquarters in Houston while the agreement was under negotiation.

The US space agency has said having at least one Russian and one American aboard the space station is crucial to keeping the laboratory running.

“Flying integrated crews ensures there are appropriately trained crew members on board the station for essential maintenance and spacewalks,” NASA said in a statement on Friday.

Shortly before the agreement was announced, Putin replaced Rogozin with Yuri Borisov, a former deputy prime minister and deputy defense minister.



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