Shortly earlier than liftoff, Mann, a Marine Corps colonel who grew to become the primary Native American girl to achieve house, advised mission management, “Let’s do that!” After the crew efficiently reached orbit, she reported the flight “was a easy experience uphill.”
Given the frayed relations between the US and Russia, the flight is seen as one more image that the international locations are discovering a strategy to cooperate in house. For greater than 20 years, the international locations have served as the primary companions on the house station — sustaining a fragile, interdependent relationship that has served each international locations’ house applications effectively.
Final month, it was Russia’s flip to fly an American, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, to the station. Rubio and a pair of cosmonauts launched in a Russian Soyuz rocket that arrived on the station Sept. 21.
Through the house shuttle period, NASA flew Russian cosmonauts. And after the shuttle was retired in 2011, Russia transported NASA’s astronauts to and from the station. Wednesday’s flight was the primary time a Russian flew on a SpaceX rocket. The house businesses expect extra crew swaps within the years to return, though the partnership has been in query due to Russia’s lethal invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier this yr, Dmitry Rogozin, the bombastic former head of Roscosmos, the Russian house company, threatened to finish the partnership and even intimated that since Russia is liable for boosting the station and preserving it within the appropriate orbit, it might additionally trigger it to return crashing down.
NASA, although, largely ignored the discuss, dismissing it privately as bluster, and mentioned it could proceed to maintain the house station partnership going.
“Russian cosmonauts and American astronauts are all very skilled,” NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson mentioned in June. “Regardless of the tragedies which can be occurring in Ukraine by President [Vladimir] Putin, the actual fact is that the worldwide partnership is strong in relation to the civilian house program.”
That was a message pushed dwelling by NASA leaders within the days main as much as Wednesday’s launch.
“If you end up flying one another’s crew members, you realize that you’ve got an enormous duty, that you simply’re promising to the opposite nation to have the ability to be sure that you’re flying their crew member safely,” Kathy Lueders, NASA’s affiliate administrator for house operations, mentioned. “At a working degree, we’ve actually appreciated the fidelity and the connection even throughout some actually, actually powerful instances geopolitically.”
Throughout a name with reporters Monday night, Sergei Krikalev, a former cosmonaut who serves as the chief director of Roscosmos’s human spaceflight applications, reiterated that Russia would proceed its partnership on the house station by means of 2024, a date to which it had beforehand dedicated itself.
Whereas Russia is working to design and construct a brand new house station, he mentioned, “we all know that isn’t going to occur very fast,” so the nation might “focus on extending our partnership in ISS.”
Throughout a information convention after the launch Wednesday, Krikalev mentioned the launch marked a “new section” of a relationship that started when the US and the Soviet Union cooperated in house with the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975.
“We began to cooperate a few years in the past, greater than 40 years in the past, and we’ll proceed our cooperation so long as I can think about,” Krikalev mentioned.
Requested if the extra conciliatory tone was a concerted effort to ease tensions, he mentioned, “The reply is sure.”
NASA has indicated it could welcome a continued partnership. It has mentioned it plans to use the house station till 2030.
In July, the Kremlin changed Rogozin as the top of Roscosmos, naming to the put up Yuri Borisov, a deputy prime minister.
Joel Montalbano, NASA’s ISS program supervisor, mentioned Monday that Borisov has “made it very clear that Roscosmos has dedicated to assembly all their worldwide commitments.” He mentioned the Russian house company has offered “glorious assist” for the latest launches, “and we anticipate it to proceed.”
After lifting off Wednesday, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule is anticipated to dock with the house station Thursday afternoon. The crew is scheduled to spend about six months performing science experiments on the orbiting laboratory.