SpaceX capsule heads to space station ferrying NASA crew and Russian

A high-ranking official of the Russian space agency Roscosmos said shortly after the launch that the flight marked "a new phase of our cooperation" with the U.S. space agency NASA.

Florida [US]: Billionaire tycoon Elon Musk’s Space X blasted off from Florida on Wednesday, heading to the International Space Station (ISS)

Fla., Oct 5 (Reuters) – A SpaceX rocket soared into orbit from Florida on Wednesday carrying the next long-term International Space Station crew, with a Russian cosmonaut, two Americans and a Japanese astronaut flying together in a demonstration of U.S.-Russian teamwork in space despite Ukraine war tensions.

A high-ranking official of the Russian space agency Roscosmos said shortly after the launch that the flight marked “a new phase of our cooperation” with the U.S. space agency NASA.

The mission involved the participation of a Russian astronaut, a cosmonaut from Russia, an astronaut from Japan. Japanese along with two American astronauts.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Dragon spacecraft launches in NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, as well as Roscosmos Cosmonaut Anna Kikina aboard in October 5 in NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in accordance with the press release issued by NASA.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 is the fifth mission of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The crew members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission are in orbit right now.

The SpaceX launch vehicle, consisting of a Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule dubbed Endurance, lifted off into clear skies at noon EDT (1600 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The two-stage, 23-story-tall Falcon 9 ascended from the launch tower as its nine Merlin engines roared to life in billowing clouds of vapor and a reddish-orange fireball.

The mission is notable for the inclusion of Anna Kikina, 38, the lone female cosmonaut on active duty with Roscosmos, making it the first spaceflight with a Russian launched from U.S. soil in two decades. As the spacecraft entered Earth orbit, Kikina radioed her thanks to NASA, Roscosmos and their International Space Station (ISS) partners for “giving us this great opportunity.”

Kikina, who had trained in the United States for the flight since spring 2021, was essentially swapping places with a NASA astronaut who took her seat aboard a Russian Soyuz flight to the ISS last month under a new ride-sharing deal signed by NASA and Roscosmos in July.

About nine minutes after Wednesday’s launch, the rocket’s upper stage delivered the Crew Dragon into a preliminary orbit as it streaked through space at nearly 16,000 miles per hour (27,000 kph). The reusable lower-stage booster flew itself back to Earth and landed safely on a drone recovery vessel at sea.

NASA-Roscosmos relations have been tested since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and the United States imposed sweeping sanctions against Moscow.

At a post-launch NASA-SpaceX briefing on Wednesday, Sergei Krikalev, head of human spaceflight for Roscosmos, said he agency chief Yuri Borisov were seeking to ease tensions after Borisov’s predecessor, Dmitry Rogozin, raised questions about the future of the ISS partnership.

Krikalev cited bilateral teamwork in space dating back to the Apollo-Soyuz era in 1975, saying, “We started our cooperation many years ago, over 40 years ago, and will continue our cooperation as long as I can imagine.”

The July crew-exchange deal paved the way for resuming routine joint U.S.-Russian flights to the ISS that had begun during the space shuttle era and continued after shuttles ceased flying in 2011. From then until SpaceX began offering crewed launch services nine years later, Soyuz was the only avenue to orbit for U.S. astronauts.

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