US delivers Russian cosmonaut to orbit — RT World News
Cosmonaut Anna Kikina traveled to the International Space Station as part of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission
A Russian cosmonaut has traveled to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard an American spacecraft for the first time in 20 years. Anna Kikina was part of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission which docked on Friday, on the second flight under the Russia-US seat-sharing program.
The SpaceX « Endurance » capsule launched Oct. 5 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and successfully docked with the ISS on Friday afternoon. In addition to Kikina, the crew also included NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, as well as Japanese Koichi Wakata.
Kikina’s participation in the mission was made possible thanks to an agreement signed on June 14, 2022 between NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The historic deal was reached despite deteriorating relations due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and involved a series of crew swaps.
The agreement covers a total of three flights by Russian cosmonauts on SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and three flights by American astronauts on the Soyuz spacecraft. The first seat swap mission was launched in September, when American astronaut Frank Rubio joined two Russian cosmonauts, Sergey Prokopyev and Dmirty Petelin, aboard their Soyuz-2.1a.
During the launch, Kikina thanked Roscosmos, NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA for giving him this opportunity.
“We are so happy to do it together. Thank you all for being with us,” she said in Russian and English, after the capsule had gone into orbit.
Kikina is the only female cosmonaut on the current Russian list. She has been described as a “goodwill ambassador” by Dmitry Rogozin, then head of Roscosmos, in December 2021, when the deal was still being negotiated.
« Our beautiful cosmonaut will be the first Russian to complete the flight exchange program », Rogozin told reporters at the time.
The Russians previously used American spacecraft to reach orbit between 1994 and 2002, when NASA’s space shuttle program was still in existence. The first joint missions of this type allowed American astronauts to visit the Russian space station Mir under the « Shuttle-Mir program », while the others involved flights to the ISS. NASA, however, discontinued the shuttle program in 2011 and had to rely on Roscosmos to ferry astronauts to the space station until 2020.