Scientific cooperation stronger than geopolitical tensions. Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina and three other crew members arrived at the International Space Station on Thursday after traveling aboard a spacecraft from the American company SpaceX. A joint flight between the United States and Russia which is particularly symbolic in the midst of the war in Ukraine.
“We can’t wait to get to work,” said American astronaut Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman to go into space, shortly after docking the spacecraft with the Space Station (ISS). It was SpaceX’s fifth regular mission to the ISS on behalf of NASA, and the first US mission to carry a Russian cosmonaut since 2002. Besides Anna Kikina and Nicole Mann, the crew dubbed Crew-5 is also composed of the Japanese Koichi Wakata, and the American astronaut Josh Cassada.
Five months on board
The SpaceX rocket took off on Wednesday from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, propelling the Dragon capsule into space. This ship slowly approached the ISS on Thursday, after a long journey of about 30 hours.
Members of Crew-5 will spend about five months in this flying laboratory, some 400 kilometers above sea level. They join the seven people already on board (two Russians, four Americans and an Italian).
A few days of handover are planned with the four members of Crew-4, before they are sent back to Earth. They must land off the American coast, on a date that has yet to be specified.
Two weeks ago, an American took off for the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. This long-planned astronaut exchange program has been maintained despite the very high tensions between the United States and Russia since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Ensuring the operation of the ISS has thus become one of the very few subjects of cooperation between the two countries.
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