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The US space agency NASA and its Russian counterpart Roscosmos have reached a new agreement on joint flights to the International Space Station. As a result, Americans can continue to fly in Russian Soyuz capsules and Russians can travel on American spacecraft.
Space is one of the last areas in which Americans and Russians are working closely together. Countries have been partners in the International Space Station for decades, the construction of which began nearly 25 years ago.
Space agencies say the new agreement is in the interests of both countries. In this way, spaceflights to the International Space Station are guaranteed, even if one of the countries suffers from delayed or canceled rocket launches.
Soon after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the tone was less conciliatory. Rogozin, CEO of Roscosmos, said he wanted to cut all ties with the West. He also threatened to destroy the International Space Station due to Western sanctions. The threat was soon ignored by NASA chief Nelson. “He brags every now and then, but he always works with us,” he said in March.
The first flights under the new agreement will be operated in September. Then an American cosmonaut travels with two Russians in a Soyuz capsule to the space station, and a Russian cosmonaut travels with an American cosmonaut and a Japanese cosmonaut in a SpaceX space capsule. The Russian is currently training for her mission at NASA Headquarters in Houston.
In recent years, NASA has been entirely dependent on the Russians to get people to the International Space Station. After the space shuttle program ended, the United States did not have its own manned space capsule for many years. Two years ago, the commercial company SpaceX launched the Crew Dragon, allowing Americans to send people into space again.
Interestingly, Russian President Putin has only replaced the head of Roscosmos today. This happened shortly before the agreement was announced.
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