After a 29-hour journey, a SpaceX spacecraft carrying an international crew of astronauts docked with the International Space Station on Thursday.
Despite growing tensions on the ground related to the invasion of Ukraine, the project, named Crew-5, is a cooperative effort by NASA, SpaceX, and its government partners throughout the world, including — for the first time — Russia. The mission was carried out on Wednesday at 12 p.m. ET from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
A day was spent by the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a daylong, meticulous ascent to the space station. The spacecraft, which is completely autonomous, utilised its tiny internal engines to maintain aligned as it slid into its docking slot as it reached the ISS. At 5:01 p.m. ET, it made its first direct physical contact with the ISS.
The hatch between the capsule and the space station was opened, formally uniting the spacecraft, after securing a vacuum-tight seal between them.
They were greeted by Samantha Cristoforetti, the first female commander of the space station and an astronaut for the European Space Agency who had previously flown on a SpaceX mission to the ISS.
It’s really amazing to have you guys on board at last. And this is a really special crew because Anna (Kikina) is the first Russian cosmonaut to ride on a Crew Dragon, so please accept my warmest welcome,” Cristoforetti remarked.
Being the first Native American woman to ever travel to space, Mann’s spaceflight is significant in history. On the livestream broadcast from the ISS, she exclaimed, “Look, Mom, I’m finally in space!” The first woman to ever assume such a role for a SpaceX mission, Mann is also serving as Crew-5 mission commander.
The joyous occasion was shared by Kikina, who is also taking part in her maiden space voyage. We are overflowing with feelings, Kikina continued. Shortly after she finished, a Russian translator stepped over and said, “I’m so glad I’m here.” “Many individuals are working hard and will remain working hard to make sure… that our common (crewed) space exploration will continue to exist and expand further,” Kikina continued through the interpreter. We’re here and can demonstrate it ourselves,” she said.
A ride-sharing contract between NASA and Roscosmos was signed in July, and that deal includes Kikina’s participation in this voyage. Despite the fact that the war in Ukraine has intensified geopolitical tensions between the United States and Russia, NASA has repeatedly stated that its partnership with Roscosmos on the ISS is essential to maintaining the space station’s operations and the important scientific research that is conducted on board.
The executive director of Human Space Flight Programs at Roscosmos, Sergei Krikalev, spoke about the importance of the US-Russian relationship during a news conference on Wednesday.
In 1975, the Apollo-Soyuz crew collaborated, and Krikalev commented, “We just continue what was started many years before, in 1975 when the Apollo-Soyuz crew worked together.” This in-space meeting in 1975 became a symbol of post-Cold War cooperation between the US and Russia. “We now carry on that.”
The astronauts aboard Crew-5 will be in space for around five months. They are slated to carry out more than 200 scientific experiments during their stay, as well as spacewalks to repair the space station’s exterior.
According to a NASA statement, the experiments “will involve investigations on printing human organs in space, understanding fuel systems operating on the Moon, and better understanding heart disease.” This is the sixth crewed flight that Elon Musk, the controversial tech tycoon, and his privately held business SpaceX have completed for NASA. The initiative is the result of a $2.6 billion agreement that NASA and SpaceX agreed to nearly ten years ago as part of the space agency’s efforts to turn over all ISS transportation to the private sector so that NASA could concentrate on exploring further into the solar system.
Boeing, a major player in the aerospace industry, also agreed to a deal of a similar nature, albeit it is still trying to launch its Starliner commercial spaceship. Early in 2023, the first crewed flight might take place.
A total of 15 crewed flights totaling a value of more than $4.9 billion are now covered by the agreement that NASA has proceeded to expand with SpaceX.