Russian Soyuz Spacecraft Launches NASA Astronaut and Cosmonauts to International Space Station

A NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts embarked on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The launch from Kazakhstan marked Russia’s first crewed mission to the ISS in nearly a year. The crew consists of NASA’s Loral O’Hara and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub.

After a three-hour journey, the Soyuz spacecraft will rendezvous with the ISS. Once there, the new crew members will take over operations from the previous trio who have been on the station for almost a year. The previous crew arrived on the Soyuz MS-22, which experienced a coolant leak caused by a piece of space debris colliding with the spacecraft. As a result, a replacement spacecraft was launched, leaving the MS-22 crew stranded until now.

Among the MS-22 crew is NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who recently broke the US record for the most consecutive days in orbit. He is expected to return to Earth soon, accumulating a total of 371 days in space. By spending a full calendar year in space, Rubio will become the first American astronaut to achieve this milestone.

The crew-swapping agreement between NASA and Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, allows American and Russian astronauts to travel on each other’s spacecraft. This collaboration is crucial for maintaining the operations and scientific research conducted on the ISS.

The partnership between the US and Russia in space exploration continues despite geopolitical tensions. SpaceX, NASA’s transportation partner, includes Russian cosmonauts on its flights to the ISS. The most recent SpaceX mission carried astronauts from NASA, Roscosmos, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and the European Space Agency.