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An American astronaut lands on the International Space Station with two Russian colleagues: “Unlike Earth, we get along well here”

An American astronaut lands on the International Space Station with two Russian colleagues: “Unlike Earth, we get along well here”

Two Russian astronauts and an American astronaut arrived aboard a Soyuz capsule to the International Space Station on Friday, the only case of cooperation despite deep tensions between Moscow and Washington. Veteran Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and his companion Nikolai Chub, along with NASA astronaut Laura O’Hara Lore, departed from the Russian spaceport in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, at midnight as scheduled, aboard a Soyuz MS-24 rocket.

The Russian Space Agency announced in a press release that the crew arrived at the International Space Station after three hours. This launch comes less than a month after the loss of the Russian Luna-25 lunar probe, which collided with the moon in August.

The failure was a reminder of the difficulties the Russian space sector has faced for years, from lack of funding to corruption scandals. “It’s a very special moment and a great feeling to be part of something that is bigger than us and has brought so many people together,” said O’Hara, 40. “I’m excited about this mission.” It is the first flight into space, during a press conference in Baikonur.

Nikolai Chub, 39, who was also on his first flight, said: “The atmosphere is good and the crew is ready to carry out all the tasks assigned to them.” He added that space travel was his “childhood dream” to which he devoted his “whole life.”

The three astronauts will replace Russians Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin and American Frank Rubio, who arrived on board the International Space Station a year ago. Their mission has been extended due to damage to the spacecraft, Soyuz MS-22, which suffered a catastrophic loss while docking with the International Space Station in December 2022, due to a small meteorite impact, according to Moscow.

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Therefore, the Russian Space Agency decided to use it only in emergency situations and chose to send the MS-23 spacecraft as an alternative.
The space sector is one of the few remaining areas of cooperation between Russia and the United States, in the context of strong tensions due to the conflict in Ukraine. American Loral O’Hara declared that the International Space Station is a “symbol of peace and cooperation.”

Kononenko added: “Unlike what happens on the ground (…) where countries often do not agree, at the top we agree and understand each other and feel very sensitive about our relations. We always take care of each other.” , 59.