Roscosmos’ only female cosmonaut to launch in SpaceX capsule on September 1: Report

Anna Kikina, Russia’s only active female cosmonaut, will board SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule on September 1 for her flight to the International Space Station (ISS). In an official statement on Telegram, the Russian space agency Roscosmos revealed that Kikina’s flight was part of the Crew-5 mission under its seat swap agreement with NASA. Under the deal, NASA will launch a cosmonaut in an American spacecraft in exchange for one of its astronaut’s trips in the Russian Soyuz capsule.

“The launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying the Crew 5 mission, which could include Anna Kikina, is scheduled for September 1,” Roscosmos said according to the Russian news agency, CASS. To prepare for the mission, Kikina left for the United States where she will undergo spacesuit training, including fitting her to individual parameters, and learn how to operate the upgraded Dragon spacecraft’s systems.

Russia and the United States maintain their space cooperation despite the tensions linked to the war in Ukraine

Earlier in June, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin revealed that Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, after discussions with the “Russian Foreign Ministry and other interested federal executive authorities”, had given the go-ahead at the flight of Kikina. In a thread of tweets, Rogozin further said that this mission was necessary to establish coordination between the ISS crew and their mutual learning on the other country’s spacecraft.

He also revealed that Roscosmos is currently waiting for NASA to nominate its candidate who will be launched to the ISS in a Russian spacecraft on a future mission. Scheduled for launch later this year, Crew-5 will carry three other astronauts in addition to Kikina – NASA’s Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.

Roscosmos–NASA relations

The two agencies are currently cooperating in space; however, the cooperation suffered a major setback when Roscosmos suspended NASA from its joint Venus mission. Called Venera-D, it was to be launched in 2029 but will now be developed and launched solely by Roscosmos. However, this was followed by a brief partnership between the two agencies, when NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei returned to Earth from the space station in a Russian spacecraft. Notably, Roscosmos is working on a second Venus mission that would be launched in 2034 to fetch soil samples from the planet.

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