The crew of cosmonauts, all Russians, are leaving for the International Space Station

The crew of cosmonauts, all Russians, are leaving for the International Space Station

This will be the first spaceflight of Matveyev and Korsakov, and the trio will spend the next six and a half months aboard the space station.

The astronauts manually steered the Soyuz through the docking station and successfully docked at 3:12 p.m. ET. The hatch opened at 5:48 p.m. ET and they were greeted aboard the International Space Station by two Russian cosmonauts, four NASA astronauts and one European Space Agency cosmonaut. The crew members laughed and hugged each other after they floated through the hatch.

This brings the station crew to 10.

Russian Soyuz launches typically include two cosmonauts and at least one cosmonaut from NASA or another international partner due to the crew exchange agreement between the RSA and other agencies.

This is not the first time that an all-Russian mission has been carried out – a Russian crew flew to the station in October to shoot the first film in space.

Although this astronaut’s launch occurs at a time of rising geopolitical tensions, the absence of other nations’ participation was serendipitous and is based on an earlier agreement between NASA and Roscosmos to postpone the crew exchange for future missions in 2022.

“We are still planning to work on the crew exchange,” said Joel Montalbano, NASA’s International Space Station program manager, at a press conference Monday. “So we still have a training schedule for Rocosmos to come to Houston and Hawthorne and our team to go to Star City and train at Soyuz.

In terms of interaction with the White House – they understand that we are continuing with these processes. We get questions from time to time and answer them, but today we continue to work on those agreements.”

Cosmonauts lift off aboard the Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Montalbano did not respond to a question about extending the ISS’s partnership with Russia until 2030.

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When asked if current tensions on Earth have translated into the crew aboard the space station, Montalbano said: “When you’re in space, there are no borders. You don’t see state borders or state borders.”

“Teams keep working together. Are they aware of what is happening on Earth? Of course. The astronauts and cosmonauts are some of the most professional groups you will ever see. They continue to work very well and there is no tension with the team. with this work.”

back to earth

On March 30, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hee will return to Earth with Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov.

Vande Hei – who traveled to the International Space Station in April 2021 – surpassed NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s record of 340 days in space on March 15, and when he touches down in Kazakhstan, he will have set a new record for the time a person spends. . Spent in space: 355 days.

The space agency on Monday tried to reiterate that it continues to work closely with the Russian space agency Rocosmos on the International Space Station, despite escalating geopolitical tensions.

According to Montalbano, joint operations between NASA and Roscosmos at the Russian facilities in Baikonur, Kazakhstan “are still going well.” “I can tell you for sure, Mark [Vande Hei] Montalbano said on Monday she would be returning home “aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.” We are in contact with our Russian colleagues, and there is no fog in that. †

NASA says the Americans aboard the International Space Station will certainly return aboard a Russian rocket.

NASA officials did not say there would be major changes in plans to return Vande Hee to the United States after landing. He will travel home via Gulfstream, as other American astronauts before him have done.

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For nearly a decade, Russian Soyuz vehicles have been the only means of transporting astronauts to and from the space station. But that dependence ended after SpaceX launched its Crew Dragon capsule in 2020 and the United States restored human spaceflight capabilities.

When asked by CNN Montalbano’s Kristen Fisher if NASA had any contingency plans in case US-Russia relations deteriorate, he said, “The International Space Station, I’ll tell you, is the leading model for international cooperation. We’ve talked before (about) interdependence. Between the US and the Russian side. That’s why we can work and the way we work… At the moment, there is no indication from our Russian partners that they want to do it differently. So we plan to continue our business as we are now.”

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