June 13, 2024

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A SpaceX capsule docking at the International Space Station with international astronauts

A SpaceX capsule docking at the International Space Station with international astronauts

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A SpaceX capsule carrying a multinational crew of astronauts was attached to the International Space Station on Thursday after a 29-hour flight.

The mission, called Crew-5, is a joint operation of NASA, SpaceX and Government Partners around the world, including — for the first time — Russia, despite rising tensions on the ground surrounding the invasion of Ukraine. the mission It was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12 noon EST Wednesday.

The Crew Dragon capsule spent a day making a slow, methodical climb to the space station. As it approached the International Space Station, the spacecraft, which is fully autonomous, used its small onboard engines to stay geared as it entered port. She made her first physical contact with the International Space Station at 5:01 p.m. ET.

After making sure that there was a vacuum seal between the SpaceX spacecraft and the International Space Station, the hatch separating the capsule and the space station was officially opened. to share Starship.

As is common for astronauts arriving at the International Space Station, the crew was able to send a video message back to Earth that was broadcast by NASA. broadcast live.

The crew consists of NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada. astronaut Koichi Wakata JAXA of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; Cosmonaut Anna Kikina of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

They were welcomed by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who traveled to the International Space Station on a previous SpaceX mission and recently became the first female commander of the space station.

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“It’s great to finally share this with you. This is a very special crew because it’s the first time a Russian cosmonaut has flown aboard the Crew Dragon, so we welcome you especially to Anna (Kkina),” Cristoforetti said.

Space flight represents a historical moment, as man has become The first Native American woman to travel into space.

“Look mom, I’m finally in space!” She said in a live broadcast from the International Space Station. Mann also serves as mission commander for Crew 5, making her the first woman ever to take such a role on a SpaceX mission.

Kekina, who is also testing her first-ever spaceflight, shared this festive moment.

“We’re overflowing with emotion,” Kekina added.

A Russian translator took up the task shortly after it aired, saying, “I’m very happy to be here.”

Then, through the translator, Kekina added: “Many people are working hard and will continue to work hard to ensure … that the exploration of common (manned) space will continue to develop. We are here and we are living proof of that.

Kikina’s participation in this ride is part of the ride-sharing agreement inked By NASA and Roscosmos in July. Despite the geopolitical tensions between the United States and the Russia is close As the war in Ukraine escalates, NASA has repeatedly said that its collaboration with Roscosmos on the International Space Station is vital to the space station’s continued operation and valuable scientific research on board.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Sergey Krikalev, Executive Director of Roscosmos’ Manned Space Programs, commented on the importance of the partnership between the United States and Russia.

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“We continue what began many years ago, in 1975 when the Apollo Soyuz crew worked together,” Krikalev said, referring to the 1975 space meeting that became a symbol of US post-Cold War cooperation. and Russia. “Now we are moving.”

Crew 5 astronauts will spend about five months in space. During their stay, they are expected to perform a spacewalk to maintain the space station’s exterior appearance, as well as its performance. More than 200 scientific experiments.

According to a NASA statement, the “experiments will include studies on printing human organs in space, understanding the fuel systems that operate on the Moon, and a better understanding of heart disease.”

This is the sixth manned mission from SpaceX, the private company led by controversial tech billionaire Elon Musk, on behalf of NASA. The program comes from 2.6 billion dollars Doing business with NASA and SpaceX It happened nearly a decade ago As part of the space agency’s efforts to privatize all transportation to and from the International Space Station, NASA may focus on deeper exploration of the solar system.

Aerospace giant Boeing has also signed a similar contract, although it still operates its commercial Starliner spacecraft. The first manned flight could take place as early as 2023.

Meanwhile, NASA continued to expand its partnership with SpaceX, increasing the value of Comprehensive deal with 15 manned missions totaling $4.9 billion.