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NASA and Roscosmos agree on spaceflight seat sharing

The announcement came on the same day that longtime Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin was replaced.

The United States and Russia have reached an agreement to fly their astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). The breakthrough comes after months of tension and uncertainty weighing on joint space activities following the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos and its American counterpart, NASA, confirmed on Friday that they had agreed on the so-called “integrated flights”. The ultimate goal of the agreement is to ensure that at least one American astronaut and one Russian cosmonaut are present at the ISS to maintain the respective segments of the station, Roscosmos explained.

“The agreement meets the interests of Russia and the United States and will promote the development of cooperation in the framework of the International Space Station program,” he added. the agency said in a statement.

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A NASA spokesman, Josh Finch, pointed out that “flying integrated crews ensure that there are properly trained crew members aboard the station for essential maintenance and spacewalks.” The case is a “arrangement without exchange of funds”, Finch said, and includes all necessary training as well as “transportation to and from the International Space Station and full mission support.”

“It also protects against contingencies such as a problem with a crew spacecraft, serious crew medical issues, or an emergency on board the station that requires a crew and their assigned vehicle. return to Earth sooner than expected”, he added.

The first mission under the deal, involving NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, is scheduled to take place in late September. The crew will use the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to reach the ISS.

Another mission, also scheduled for the fall, will pilot an American Crew Dragon spacecraft. The mission will likely involve the only woman on the active roster of Russian cosmonauts, Anna Kikina, Roscosmos has revealed.

The apparent breakthrough in relations between NASA and Roscosmos comes after months of tensions triggered by the steadily deteriorating relationship between the two countries, further aggravated by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The announcement of the deal also coincided with the sacking of longtime Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin, who was replaced by Yury Borisov in a government reshuffle on Friday.


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