Russian cosmonauts will be able to fly to the ISS on American spacecraft and NASA cosmonauts in Russian.
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American and Russian astronauts will share space aboard the same spacecraft after NASA and its Russian partner Roscosmos reached a ride-sharing agreement after months of discussions. CNN reports.
Two seats on two separate launches of Russian Soyuz spacecraft have been reserved for NASA astronauts, with the first scheduled to lift off from a Russian spaceport in Kazakhstan in September. And Russian cosmonauts will join at least two future SpaceX missions to the International Space Station, marking the first time a Russian will board SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon spacecraft.
NASA has assigned astronaut Frank Rubio to the Soyuz mission in September, and astronaut Loral O’Hara will join the next Soyuz flight. Roscosmos is sending cosmonaut Anna Kikina on a SpaceX flight in September, while Andrey Fedyaev will fly on another SpaceX mission in spring 2023.
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NASA and Roscosmos confirmed the agreement on July 15.
The swap agreement, which does not involve swapping payments between countries, has been hanging over NASA and Roscosmos for months amid rising tensions between the US and Russia over the war in Ukraine.
NASA has repeatedly said that tensions on the ground have not affected the countries’ current cooperation in space, although the ISS, which is operated jointly by NASA, Roscosmos and several other space agencies, has become the subject of bellicose rhetoric in Russian politics.
In a statement, NASA said the signing of a ride-sharing agreement with Russia is critical to ensuring the ISS “continues to operate safely.” If the Russian Soyuz spacecraft or the SpaceX Crew Dragon encounter problems and are taken out of service, the exchange agreement will ensure that both American and Russian cosmonauts still have access to the space station.
Remember that Biden and NASA showed the first images from the James Webb telescope.