daajis.com:- Three Russian cosmonauts arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, docking their Soyuz capsule at the site on a 20-year mission of joint Russian-US presence in orbit despite tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The arrival of the latest astronaut team – warmly welcomed by four Americans, two Russians and a German colleague who was already there – came a day after the European Space Agency (ESA) announced it was suspending a joint robotic rover mission to Mars with Russia because of it. The conflict in Ukraine.
The meeting with the space station culminated in a flight of three hours and 10 minutes after the take-off of the Soyuz spacecraft from the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
“Congratulations on the successful docking,” a voice from the Russian mission console said moments later, according to an English translator who spoke during a NASA webcast of the event.
A NASA commentator said the spacecraft’s connection occurred while Soyuz and the space station were flying 250 miles (400 km) over eastern Kazakhstan.
About 2-1/2 hours later, after pressing down the runway between the station and Soyuz, two sets of hatches opened and the three smiling Soyuz astronauts, dressed in yellow flight suits, floated upside down, one by one, on the ISS.
They were greeted warmly with hugs and handshakes by all the seven occupants of the space station present who were waiting for them on the other side of the short corridor.
The Soyuz team, just beginning a science mission scheduled to last 6-1/2 months, led by Commander Oleg Artemyev, was accompanied by spaceflight novices Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov.
They will replace three current International Space Station crew members scheduled to return to Earth on March 30 – astronauts Peter Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov and US astronaut Mark Vande Hee.
Vande Hei will have set a NASA record 355 days in orbit by the time he returns to Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz capsule with two fellow astronauts.
Three NASA astronauts – Tom Marshburne, Raja Chari and Kayla Baron – and his German colleague, Matthias Maurer of the European Space Agency, remain on the space station with the new arrivals until the next cycle in two months.
The four crew members arrived together in November aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin a six-month mission in orbit.
Launched in 1998, the search platform has been continuously occupied since November 2000 while powered by a partnership led by the United States and Russia including Canada, Japan, and 11 European countries.
According to NASA, Friday’s arrival marks the first time a spacecraft has docked at the station’s newly added Prichal Module, a spherical-shaped unit launched to the International Space Station and attached to the Russian portion of the site in November 2021.
It’s actually plausible that the “Ukrainian” color flight suits are actually the “Bowman University” color suits. They made quite a bit of it being the first Bowman crew. (BMGTU is a kind of MIT AeroAstro in Moscow and many Russian cosmonauts are alumni) https://t.co/9yPLgwtYHv
– Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) March 18, 2022 The durability of US-Russian cooperation in space is tested by the growing animosity between the two former Cold War foes over Russia’s three-week invasion of Ukraine.
As part of US economic sanctions against the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, US President Joe Biden ordered high-tech export restrictions against Moscow that he said were aimed at “weakening” Russia’s aviation industry, including its space programme.
Then Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, criticized a series of posts on Twitter suggesting that US sanctions could “destroy” the collective work of the International Space Station and cause the space station to fall out of orbit.
A week later, Rogozin announced that Russia would stop supplying or maintaining Russian-made rocket engines used by two of NASA’s US aerospace suppliers, suggesting that US astronauts could use “broomsticks” to reach orbit.
Around the same time, Russia said it had halted the joint research of the International Space Station with Germany and was forced to cancel the launch of a British satellite from Baikonur.
The head of Roscosmos also said last month that Russia would suspend its cooperation with European launches at the European Spaceport in French Guiana.
On Thursday, the European Space Agency announced that it would be impossible to continue cooperation with Russia on the ExoMars mission, which called for a Russian rocket to launch a European-made rover to Mars later this year. Rogozin responded by saying that Russia would begin work on its own Mars mission.
The space station was born in part from a foreign policy initiative to improve US-Russian relations in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Cold War hostility that stimulated the original space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Rogozin’s recent actions have prompted some in the US space industry to rethink the partnership between NASA and Roscosmos. NASA officials said that the American and Russian International Space Station crew members, although they are aware of events on Earth, are still working together professionally and that geopolitical tensions have not affected the space station.
Xafiiska Shabakada Daajis.com
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