The International Space Station on Wednesday welcomed three new citizens after a smooth Russian launch.
The Soyuz rocket capsule was launched into orbit from Kazakhstan, and after only three hours, it stopped in orbit space station. American Frank Rubio checked in for six months with Russians Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin.
Rubio, a doctor and former Army paratrooper from Miami, boarded the Soyuz under a new crew exchange agreement between the two countries. The agreement was completed in July Despite tensions over Moscow’s war in Ukraine, a sign of continued Russian-American cooperation in space.
Under this cash-free swap, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina will fly SpaceX to the space station from Florida in less than two weeks. NASA and the Russian Space Agency want to continue swapping seats like this to ensure a consistent American and Russian presence on the space station.
NASA astronauts routinely launched Russian Soyuz rockets — for tens of millions of dollars apiece — until SpaceX began flying station crews from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in 2020. The last time a Russian launched from Florida was 20 years ago.
SpaceX aims to launch Kikina with one Japanese and two Americans as early as October 3.
The new arrivals will replace the astronauts who have been living there ever since the beginning of spring; Crew size will eventually stabilize to seven.
Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti said the view of the launch from the space station was “amazing”. She tweeted amazing photos The glowing tip of the earth and the jagged white bloat of the rocket.
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