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Soyuz and Crew Dragon, switching places towards the International Space Station

The space agenda for the International Space Station is organized by a complex system of chords international. Until a few years ago Soyuz It was the only taxi available to low orbit, the opening at May 2020 from Dragon crew From SpaceX he restored independence to NASA in matters of human flight. It has changed the balance of agreements between agencies, and increased the possibilities of access to space.

This is evidenced by the planning (still in progress) of the launch calendar for 2023, which is based not only on purchasing passages for the crew but also on some kind of “barter” between available seats in the Russian Soyuz and the US crew. the Dragon.

NASA has recently announce which is working on the launch plan for the Crew-6 mission, scheduled for February 26. NASA astronauts will travel aboard the Crew Dragon Steven Bowen And friendly hoburgEmirati astronaut Sultan club and Roskosmos astronaut Andrew Fedyaev. It will be Fedyaev The second Russian cosmonaut To fly aboard a dragon yet crew Anna Kikinadeparted with the Crew-5 crew in October 2022.

These trips were made possible precisely by A.S Seat swap agreement Completed in July 2022, which also allowed US astronauts to continue flying in the Soyuz spacecraft. Indeed, NASA has long pursued what it calls “integrated crews,” to ensure that Americans and Russians are on the station in the event that Soyuz or commercial vehicles are not available for an extended period.

Initially, the agreement between NASA and Roscosmos concerned the flights of astronauts Kekina and Fedyaev on the Crew Dragon and NASA astronauts Frank Rubio and Laural O’Hara on the Soyuz spacecraft. Rubio was launched with Soyuz MS-22 in September 2022, but the latest Damage to spacecraft associated with the International Space Station He will extend his stay and that of fellow Russians Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin.

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After a careful analysis of the damage to Soyuz, due to the influence of A micrometer With a diameter of about one millimeter, the space agencies of the United States and Russia jointly decided to send a new Soyuz spacecraft without pilot to recover the crew on 20 February.

This will delay the O’Hara flight, which was scheduled to launch in March with Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub. The crew will probably have to wait until next fall with Soyuz MS-24.

Meanwhile, negotiations are underway between NASA and Roscosmos for future integrated crews. “At the moment we are still working with Roscosmos on the exchange for this fall,” he said. Joel Montalbano, head of the NASA ISS program. – We have not yet set a date for the fall, but we are continuing to work in this direction.

Top photo: Crew 6 members sit inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft during a training session in Hawthorne, California. From left, Mission Specialist Andrei Fedyaev, Pilot Woody Hoburgh, Commander Stephen Bowen, and Mission Specialist Sultan Al Neyadi. Credits: SpaceX