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Russian launches to space from US, 1st time in 20 years


CAPE CANAVERAL: For the first time in 20 years, a Russian cosmonaut launched a rocket from the US on Wednesday, launching to the International Space Station with NASA and Japanese astronauts despite tensions over the war in Ukraine.
Their SpaceX flight was delayed by Hurricane Ian, which tore through the state last week.
“I hope with this launch, we will brighten up the Florida skies a little bit for everyone,” said Koichi Wakata of the Japan Space Agency, who is on his fifth spaceflight.
Joining him on a five-month mission are three newcomers to space: Marine Col. Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman bound into orbit; Navy Captain Josh Cassada and Russia’s lone cosmonaut, Anna Kikina.
They will arrive at the space station on Thursday, 29 hours after leaving NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and won’t return to Earth until March. They are replacing an American-Italian crew that arrived in April.
Kikina is the Russian Space Agency’s exchange for NASA’s Frank Rubio, who launched to the space station two weeks ago from Kazakhstan on a Soyuz rocket. He flew with two astronauts.
Over the summer, the space agencies agreed to swap seats on their flights to ensure a continued American and Russian presence on the 260-mile (420 km) high outpost. Bartering was allowed even as global hostilities increased in connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. The next crew exchange is in the spring.
Not long before the plane took off, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the main reason for the changeover was safety – in the event of an emergency forcing the crew home, there would still be Americans and Russians. on the train.
Meanwhile, Russia remains committed to the space station at least until 2024, Russian space official Sergei Krikalev assured reporters this week. Russia wants to build its own station in orbit by the end of the decade, “but we know that won’t happen quickly and so we’ll probably keep flying” with NASA until then, he said.
Beginning with Krikalev in 1994, NASA began flying astronauts aboard its space shuttle, first to Russia’s Mir space station and then to the fledgling space station. The 2003 Columbia replanting disaster ended it. However, American astronauts continue to ride Russian rockets for tens of millions of dollars per seat.
Kakina is only the fifth Russian woman to launch a rocket from the planet. She said she was surprised to be chosen for the swap position after encountering “many trials and obstacles” during her decade of training. “But I made it. Maybe I’m lucky. I am strong,” she said.
Mann is a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indians of California, and the catcher of her mother’s dream, a small, traditionally membrane-bound bracelet believed to have a protective effect. Retired NASA astronaut John Herrington of the Chickasaw Nation became the first Native American in space in 2002.
“I am very proud to represent Native Americans and my heritage,” Mann said before the flight, adding that everyone in her crew has a unique background. “It’s important to celebrate our diversity and also recognize how important it is when we work together and unite, the incredible achievements we can all have.”
As for the war in Ukraine, Mann said all four have put politics and personal beliefs aside, “and it’s great that the space station’s joint mission unites us in an instant.”
Cassada added: “We have the opportunity to be an example to society of how to work together, live together, and explore together.”
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has now launched eight crews as of 2020: six for NASA and two private teams. Boeing, NASA’s other contracted taxi service, plans to make its first spaceflight early next year, after delays in fixing software and other problems aboard test flights. experience.

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