A Soyuz rocket carrying two Russian astronauts and an American arrived this Friday (15) at the ISS (International Space Station), an unusual symbol of cooperation in a particularly tense period between Russia and the United States.
The rocket took off at the scheduled time (12:44 pm Brasília time) from the Russian Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, and arrived at the ISS three hours later, announced the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.
The launch took place less than a month after the loss of the Russian lunar probe Luna-25, which crashed into Earth’s natural satellite. The failure exposed the difficulties of the Russian space sector for years, due to a lack of funding and several corruption scandals.
The Soyuz rocket took Russians Oleg Kononenko, 59, and Nikolai Chub, 39, and NASA (American space agency) astronaut Loral O’Hara, 40, to the ISS. She and Chub flew into space for the first time.
“It’s a very special moment and I have a great feeling to be part of something that goes beyond us and that has brought so many people together. I’m excited about this mission,” O’Hara said at a press conference on Thursday in Baikonur.
“The environment is good, and the crew is ready to carry out all the tasks entrusted to them”, commented Nikolai Chub.
The three will replace Russians Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitri Petelin, and American Frank Rubio, who arrived at the ISS a year ago.
Its mission was extended due to damage to the returning ship, the Soyuz MS-22. In December 2022, it suffered a major leak while docked to the ISS. According to Moscow, the incident was caused by the impact of a micrometeorite.
The space sector is one of the few in which there is cooperation between Russia and the United States, in a context very tense due to the conflict in Ukraine. That’s why O’Hara stated, during the press conference, that the ISS is “a symbol of peace and cooperation”.
“Contrary to what happens on land, where countries often don’t understand each other, up there we understand each other very well and we are very sensitive in our relations. We care about each other”, reinforced Kononenko.