US and Russia agree to resume integrated flights to International Space Station

Even with tensions soaring over the war in Ukraine, Russia and the United States are set to resume joint flights to the International Space Station in planes from both countries. Upcoming spaceflights will feature multinational crews under a new agreement between NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos.

In a statement, NASA spokesman Josh Finch wrote that flying with embedded crews “protects against contingencies such as a problem with a crew spacecraft, serious crew medical issues “, or any emergency requiring a quick return to Earth, according to Ars Technica.

On September 21, American astronaut Frank Rubio will fly to the ISS with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, leased by Russia.

Another flight, also launched in September, will include American astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and cosmonaut Anna Kikina. The flight will use the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle and will be the first time a cosmonaut has flown into space on a US vehicle other than the Space Shuttle.

Next spring, there will be two more integrated flights. American astronaut Loral O’Hara will join cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub on a Russian spacecraft, while cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev will join American astronauts Steve Bowen and Woody Hoburg on an American spacecraft.

The new agreement helps cement the Russian-US cooperation that helped establish the International Space Station in 1998. For 9 years after the Space Shuttle was scuttled in 2011, US flights to the station have all been launched on spacecraft Russians from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

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