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Russia, US agree to resume ride sharing for space station missions

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA's SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station. (Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images/TNS)

The U.S. and Russian space agencies said they have agreed to resume having crew members ride to the International Space Station on each others’ rockets.

The arrangement with Roscosmos will send an integrated crew to the space station in September, NASA said Friday in an emailed news release. Crews shared rides during the U.S. space shuttle program that ended in 2011.

The agreement will promote cooperation, and ensure there’s at least one cosmonaut and one astronaut on board in case there’s an emergency involving a Russian or U.S. spacecraft, Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a statement.

NASA said having mixed crews “ensures there are appropriately trained crew members on board the station for essential maintenance and spacewalks.”

Tension following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatened to extend to space cooperation. In April the then-head of Roscosmos said Russia would pull out of the space station in response to Western sanctions. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that wasn’t the case. On Friday, the Russian official who spoke of withdrawing from the station was replaced as general director of Roscosmos.

A U.S. astronaut will join a launch Sept. 21 on the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A cosmonaut will join a mission in September on SpaceX Crew-5 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA said.

Five space agencies — from Canada, Europe, Japan, the U.S., and Russia — operate the station, and none can operate there without the cooperation of the others, NASA said.

Currently the space station has seven occupants — three cosmonauts, three NASA astronauts and one from the European Space Agency.


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