This Friday, three astronauts—two Russians and an American—arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) in a Soyuz spacecraft. In the midst of a time when tensions between Russia and the United States are high, this journey marks a rare example of cooperation.
Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Tchoub, and Loral O’Hara, a NASA astronaut who is making her maiden mission into space, boarded the Soyuz MS-24 rocket as it lifted off from a Russian cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The team boarded the ISS after a 3-hour journey.
ISS, a “symbol of peace”
The Russian lunar probe Luna-25, which crashed on the Moon in August, was lost less than a month before to its launch. This disaster served as a reminder of the challenges the Russian space industry has long faced, including budget issues and corruption scandals.
The three astronauts will succeed Sergei Prokopiev, Dmitri Peteline, and American Frank Rubio, who joined the International Space Station (ISS) a year ago. The damage to their return spacecraft necessitated an extension of their mission. While docked with the ISS in December 2022, a huge leak occurred on the Soyuz MS-22.
Since it could only be utilised in an emergency, the Russian space agency made the decision to send the MS-23 spacecraft in its place. In a time of intense tension brought on by the conflict in Ukraine, the space sector is one of the few sectors where cooperation between Russia and the United States still exists. The International Space Station is thus “a symbol of peace and cooperation,” according to American Loral O’Hara.
Space continues to bridge the gap between Russia and the USA
The only area where the two superpowers are still cooperating is in space, despite increased hostility between them as a result of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Contemplating the growing rift between Washington and Moscow brought on by the conflict in the months before the flight, Kononenko noted that, “unlike Earth,” cosmonauts and astronauts looked out for one another in space. We are particularly sensitive to our interactions since we can hear and understand each other there. In a pre-flight press conference, he added, “We always look out for one another.