The Russian space agency Roscosmos launched the Soyuz MS-22 mission. Head to the International Space Station. On board, two Russians and an American.
In space, cooperation between the United States and Russia still holds, despite the war in Ukraine. On September 21, a Soyuz rocket pulled away from Earth’s gravity to fly towards the International Space Station. On board the Soyuz MS-22 mission, two Russian cosmonauts, but also an American astronaut, Francisco Rubio.
The three men leave for a six-month mission aboard the ISS. The takeoff, which took place from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, went well. This is Francisco Rubio’s first space trip. Sergei Prokopiev is on his second. As for Dimitri Peteline, it is also his first flight. Their arrival on board the ISS is expected by the end of the day.
An agreement between the two countries before the war
The current circumstances around the Russian-Ukrainian conflict give this flight an astonishing tint, because the diplomatic crisis is important between Washington and Moscow. The first took against the second massive sanctions against its economy, to punish it for having attacked kyiv. In addition, it delivers weapons, finances and informs the Ukrainian army so that it can defend itself.
It should be noted that this American presence on board a Russian flight was decided before the invasion of February 24, 2022. An agreement between the American and Russian space agencies allows an American to fly aboard a Russian vehicle, while that a Russian will board an American vessel. In this case, it will be Anna Kikina, aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
The American mission should take place in October 2022. It will be the Crew-5 mission, which will also involve two Americans (Nicole Aunapu Mann and Josh Cassada) and a Japanese (Koichi Wakata). Koichi Wakata is the most experienced, with five flights on the clock. All the others will make their first stay in space, again for six months.
If the ISS was an example of cooperation between Russia and the USA, and other Western countries, one can be pessimistic about the future. No concrete program is ready to extend this rapprochement. If Russia intends to set up a new lunar program, it will be with China. As for the United States, they ended up gathering other countries around them.
The ISS is therefore the last major link in space cooperation between the two countries. However, this link is mistreated, because of dubious initiatives (Russian propaganda took place on board) and new concerns for some and for others. Thus, the USA is considering abandoning the ISS. Russia too, although it tends to send mixed signals.