An American and two Russians heading to the ISS in full offensive in Ukraine

published on Wednesday, September 21, 2022 at 07:26

An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts will take off for the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, a trip that represents a rare sign of cooperation amid tensions linked to the offensive in Ukraine.

NASA’s Frank Rubio, as well as Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitri Peteline of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, will take off aboard a Soyuz rocket from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 13:54 GMT.

Mr. Rubio is the first American astronaut to travel to the ISS aboard a Russian rocket since Moscow’s troop entry into Ukraine began on February 24.

The West adopted an unprecedented series of sanctions against Moscow and relations, already strained since 2014, sank to an all-time low. The space industry was also targeted, but space remained, in a way, an area of ​​cooperation between Moscow and Washington.

After Wednesday’s flight, Anna Kikina, Russia’s only active-duty cosmonaut, will travel to the orbiting laboratory for the first time in early October aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon rocket.

She will be the fifth Russian female professional cosmonaut to go into space and the first woman to fly aboard a ship from billionaire Elon Musk’s firm.

With these two planned flights, the astronauts and cosmonauts of each country, in particular those who had to enter orbit, wanted to get away from the tensions caused by the conflict that ravages the Earth.

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.

– Moscow will leave the ISS –

The ISS currently relies on a Russian propulsion system to maintain its orbit, some 400 kilometers above sea level, while the US segment handles electricity and life support systems.

Space tensions rose after Washington announced sanctions against Russia’s aerospace industry, prompting warnings from Russia’s former space chief and staunch supporter of intervention in Ukraine, Dmitry Rogozine.

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 prospering. under heavy penalties.

The ISS was launched in 1998 at a time of hope for cooperation between the United States and Russia.

In Soviet times, the space program was flourishing, with great successes such as the sending of the first man into space in 1961, Yuri Gagarin, and the launch of the first satellite four years earlier, Sputnik.

Roscosmos, on the other hand, has suffered a series of embarrassing setbacks in recent years, from corruption scandals to the loss of several satellites and other spacecraft.

Russia also lost its years-long monopoly on manned spaceflight to the ISS to SpaceX, representing a multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall.

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