As the Ukraine conflict rages, the US flies a Russian cosmonaut to the ISS

As the Ukraine conflict rages, the US flies a Russian cosmonaut to the ISS


A SpaceX capsule carrying a Russian crew member docked with the International Space Station on Thursday on a NASA mission that carries significant symbolism amid the war in Ukraine.

The Crew Dragon endurance spacecraft lifted off from Florida on Wednesday and encountered the orbiting research outpost about 30 hours later, docking at 5:01 p.m. Eastern Time (2301 GMT).

“Crew-5 is happy to finally have arrived on the International Space Station,” said Commander Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman in space. “We look forward to the work.”

Also on board: Koichi Wakata from Japan, Josh Cassada from the United States and Anna Kikina from Russia, the only female cosmonaut currently on duty.

About two hours after docking, hatches open, allowing the crew to join seven others already on the station: two Russians, four Americans and one Italian.

Two weeks ago, an American astronaut took off to the orbital platform on a Russian Soyuz rocket.

The long-planned astronaut exchange program has continued despite rising tensions between the United States and Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine in February.

Ensuring the operation of the ISS has become one of the few remaining areas of cooperation between the United States and Russia.

During a post-launch briefing, Sergei Krikalev, head of the manned space program on Roscosmos, hailed the opportunity as the start of a “new phase in our cooperation,” recalling the historic 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission, a symbol of detente Peak of the Cold War.

Krikalev, a former cosmonaut respected by his American peers, has been on something of a charm offensive after Roscosmos’ last boss, Dmitry Rogozin, threatened earlier this year to end cooperation and launch the ISS over US or European territory to crash.

While Russia has announced plans for its own station, analysts believe it would be difficult to build over the next few years, and withdrawing it from the ISS would effectively ground Moscow’s once-proud civilian space program.

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