The International Space Stations remain a place for cooperation between the United States and Russia amid tensions over Ukraine.
Two Russian astronauts and an astronaut from the United States reunited with the International Space Station (ISS) after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan amid rising tensions between Moscow and Washington over the invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos said that astronauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub and American NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara launched on Friday aboard the Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft.
The Russian Space Agency said that the crew arrived at the International Space Station three hours later, at 18:53 GMT.
– NASA (@NASA) September 15, 2023
At the orbital station, the trio will join the crew consisting of three Russians, two Americans and one Japanese, in addition to a representative of the European Space Agency.
The International Space Station remains a rare place for cooperation between the United States and Russia, whose relations collapsed after Moscow launched its attack on Ukraine last year.
Russia’s Kononenko alluded to the tense geopolitical tensions during a pre-flight news conference on Thursday, saying that “unlike Earth” astronauts and astronauts take care of each other in space.
“We hear each other there, we understand each other, and we are very sensitive to our relationships,” he said. “We always take care of each other.”
O’Hara from the United States praised the station’s “legacy” and said it was bringing countries together.
The Soyuz spacecraft hatch opened at 5:16 PM ET today increasing the space station’s population to 10 less than six hours after the crew ship was launched from Kazakhstan. https://t.co/nIVdAprSJF
– International Space Station (@Space_Station) September 15, 2023
“The arrival of three new crew members to the seven people already on board Expedition 69 temporarily increases the station’s population to 10,” NASA said after the Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station.
Kononenko, 59, and Chubb, 39, are scheduled to spend a year aboard the International Space Station, while O’Hara, 40, will spend six months aboard the station. This was O’Hara and Chubb’s first mission into space.
Mission Commander Kononenko is making his fifth trip to the orbiting space station.
By the end of his year-long stay, Kononenko will set a new record for the longest time in space, more than a thousand days.
Chubb said space travel was his “childhood dream” and he dedicated “his whole life” to reaching that goal.
Friday’s launch was the first of its kind for Russia since the loss of the Russian Luna-25 module last month, which crashed on the moon’s surface after an accident during pre-landing maneuvers, causing great embarrassment to Moscow.
The Luna-25 mission was intended to signal Russia’s return to independent lunar exploration in the face of financial problems, corruption scandals, and its growing isolation from the West amid its war on Ukraine.
Moscow last landed a probe on the moon in 1976, before it turned away from lunar exploration in favor of missions to Venus and building the Mir space station.
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