Russia’s Director General of Roscosmos space agency Dmitry Rogozin, announced on Wednesday, December 8, that a Russian cosmonaut will ride aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon as part of a planned NASA mission to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA made a barter arrangement with Russia to maintain a diplomacy and continue to collaborate in space ventures by conducting 'cross flights'. To support eachother, the countries plan to launch American astronauts aboard Soyuz and Russian cosmonauts aboard American-made spacecraft. –“Anya Kikina, as part of the Roscosmos-NASA cross flights, will fly to the ISS in the Fall of 2022 as part of the crew of an American commercial spacecraft. Accordingly, we will include the NASA astronaut in our crew on the Soyuz MS manned spacecraft,” Rogozin wrote in Russian language via Twitter. Currently, SpaceX is the only U.S. company capable of conducting crewed spaceflights to the Space Station, Cosmonaut Kikina is expected to fly aboard the aerospace company's Crew-5 mission alongside NASA astronauts as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
Аня Кикина в рамках перекрёстных полётов Роскосмос-НАСА полетит на МКС осенью 2022 года в составе экипажа американского коммерческого корабля. Соответственно астронавта НАСА включим в состав нашего экипажа на пилотируемом корабле "Союз МС". pic.twitter.com/idv3zIQ20A— РОГОЗИН (@Rogozin) December 8, 2021
The Roscosmos Soyuz rocket has lifted off NASA astronauts to ISS since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011. NASA relied on Russia to transport the astronauts for nearly a decade until SpaceX returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States in 2020. According to Russian news reports, Rogozin said at the 72nd International Astronautical Congress that SpaceX has gained enough experience for Russian cosmonauts to fly safely atop Falcon 9. “In our view, SpaceX has already acquired enough experience for us to be able to put our cosmonauts on the Crew Dragon […]," Rogozin said on October 25. To date, SpaceX has conducted five crewed spaceflights, including the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit the Earth for three days at an altitude higher than Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope.
The United States collaborative approach with Russia in the space sector is important in order to maintain peace among nations. Roscosmos announcement comes after Russia performed a missile strike that intentionally destroyed one of its own defunct satellites during an Anti-Satellite test (ASAT). The destructive test created a space debris cloud in Low Earth Orbit that could potentially pose a threat to NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts who are working aboard the ISS. NASA officials got upset because Russia did not inform the agency about the ASAT. Hopefully, the new partnerships between the countries could enable open communication among nations to maintain a safe space environment. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Rogozin had a private discussion a day after the ASAT –“[…] We are moving on, ensuring the safety of our crews on the ISS, [by] making joint plans,” Rogozin said.
Featured Image Source: NASA