Despite the war in Ukraine and Washington’s mission to crush Moscow with sanctions, NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts will resume flights to the International Space Station (ISS), Insider Paper reports .
“To ensure the continued safe operations of the International Space Station, to protect the lives of astronauts, and to ensure a continued American presence in space, NASA will resume embedded crews on American-crewed spacecraft and the Russian Soyuz , ” NASA said in a statement.
NASA said astronaut Frank Rubio will join cosmonauts aboard a Soyuz rocket bound for the ISS on September 21 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The announcement comes as part of a major management reshuffle at Roscosmos, Russia’s state-owned space company. In a brief statement issued by the Kremlin on Friday, Dmitry Rogozin left his post as director general of Roscosmos and will be replaced immediately by former deputy prime minister Yuri Borisov.
Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, Rogozi has made threats against the West regarding Russian participation in the ISS (he even threatened to deorbit the ISS). All of these threats were hollow, but they contributed to further straining space relations between the two countries. It is not known how Borisov will act in relation to NASA.
“The station was designed to be interdependent and depends on contributions from each space agency to operate. No agency has the ability to operate independently of the others , ” NASA continues.
On Thursday, NASA announced an agreement between Russia and the United States on seat swap flights to the ISS. “The first female member of the Russian cosmonaut team will be able to board her flight aboard the US Crew Dragon spacecraft under the seat swap program on September 1,” Russian state media TASS said .
Space relations between Russia and Western countries have deteriorated since the invasion, although new efforts appear to be underway to repair broken ones and maintain a professional arrangement with the Americans for the maintenance of the ISS.