The only woman in Russia’s Roscosmos cosmonaut corps, Anna Kikina, will fly aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon as part of a barter deal between Roscosmos and NASA. Ms. Kikina will make history as the first Russian cosmonaut to fly aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. “I recently learned about my flight on an American ship from the management and was pleasantly surprised by this proposal. I feel very good about the opportunity to carry out my first flight into space under the exchange program,” Kikina said in Russian language, according to a press release by Roscosmos (all quotes translated to English).
The announcement comes after the General Director of Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin said that Roscosmos made a barter arrangement with NASA to continue to collaborating in space ventures by conducting ‘cross flights’ to the International Space Station (ISS). Since the Space Shuttle fleet was grounded in 2011 the United States depended on Russia to transport astronauts to and from the ISS. The dependency ended with the agency’s Commercial Crew Program that selected SpaceX and Boeing to conduct crewed spaceflights from American soil. However, Boeing is still developing its spacecraft, SpaceX has conducted all crewed missions since the program kicked-off in 2020. To continue supporting each other’s space programs Russia and the United States plan to launch American astronauts aboard Soyuz and Russian cosmonauts aboard American-made spacecraft. –“Anna 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.
Cosmonaut Kikina is expected to fly aboard the aerospace company’s Crew-5 mission sometime in September 2022 alongside NASA astronauts as part of the NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. According to the head of Roscosmos, the government wants Ms. Kikina to become a goodwill ambassador for their agreement with NASA and SpaceX. “Our beauty, the cosmonaut [Kikina] will be the first to implement the cross-flight program,” Rogozin stated.
Cosmonaut Kikina is an engineer, the 37-year-old graduated with honors from the Novosibirsk State Academy of Water Transportation Engineering and has trained to become a cosmonaut since 2012. Mattel, the toy company, made a one-of-a-kind Barbie doll that embodies Anna Kikina’s image earlier this year as part of the ‘You Can Be Whoever You Want’ campaign. With the doll (pictured below), Kikina hopes to inspire girls and young women to look up to her and hopefully pursue an engineering education to become future cosmonauts. “As a child, I did not dream of becoming an astronaut, but if I had a Barbie cosmonaut doll, then the idea of being [one] would probably have come to mind,” Kikina said in March when Mattel released her doll. “The Barbie cosmonaut, in her own way, does not only represent the profession to children, but also makes it clear that everyone who sees it and sets their intentions accordingly has a chance to become a cosmonaut,” she said. Kikina will experience her first-ever spaceflight next year alongside SpaceX Crew-5 NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata. They will liftoff atop a Falcon 9 rocket aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Featured Image Source: Roscosmos