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U.S. astronauts putting Russian spacecraft home during tensions

Cape Canaveral, Florida-US astronaut Mark Vande Hay has spent nearly a year in space, but has so far returned to Earth in a Russian capsule amid growing tensions between countries. Faced with the most difficult missions.

NASA’s plans to return to Vandehei at the end of the month have not changed, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine canceling its launch, breaking contracts, and intensifying a verbal war by hardline leaders of the Russian space agency. Claims. Peaceful extraplanetary partnerships at risk, especially at the International Space Station.

Van Dehei, who breaks the US single space flight record for 340 days on Tuesday, will depart with two Russians in a Soyuz capsule for a landing in Kazakhstan on March 30. New record in the United States. The world record for 438 consecutive days in space is that of Russia.

Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who was an American record holder until Tuesday, is one of those sparring with Vladimir Putin’s longtime ally Rogozin. Furious at what was happening in Ukraine, Kelly returned the Russian medal to the Russian embassy in Washington for space exploration. ..

Despite the deadly conflict here, Kelly believes that both can “combine it” in space.

“We need a set of examples where the two countries that weren’t the most friendly conditions in history can work peacefully somewhere. And somewhere is the International Space Station, so keep it. We need to fight for it, “Kelly said. Associated Press.

NASA, like space agencies in Europe, Japan and Canada, wants to keep space stations up and running until 2030, but Russians have not committed beyond their initial end date around 2024.

The United States and Russia are the main operators of orbiting outposts and have been permanently occupied for 21 years. Until SpaceX launched the astronaut launch in 2020, Americans regularly carried vehicles to Russia’s Soyuz capsules for tens of millions of dollars per seat. US and Russian space agencies Russians will be launched in SpaceX capsules this fall and are still working on a long-term barter system in which Americans fly to Souse. This will ensure that US and Russian stations are always present.

Veteran Van Dehei, 55, moved to the space station last April and launched from Kazakhstan to Soyuz with Pyotr Dubrov and another Russian. ..

Last month, as the situation intensified 260 miles (420 kilometers), Vande Hay admitted that he was avoiding conversations between Dubrov and Russian commander Anton Shkaplerov about Ukraine.

“We’re not talking so much. I don’t know if I really want to go there,” Vande Hay told a television interviewer in mid-February.

According to NASA, space station operations will continue as usual in orbit and on Earth.

“If we can’t continue to operate peacefully in space, it will be a sad day for international operations,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s head of manned space flight. That was “very difficult”, he said.

To commemorate Tuesday’s milestone, NASA used Twitter to collect questions about video-recorded responses, with some asking if Van Dehei would switch to an American vehicle. SpaceX takes three wealthy businessmen and their former astronauts to the space station. We will have a short visit at the end of March. Then, in mid-April, SpaceX will send four astronauts to NASA to bring back the four who had been on board since November.

Joel Montalbano, NASA’s space station program manager, said at a press conference on Monday that the Russian space agency was ready to bring back Van Dehei and all three of the two Russians. Stated. To get Vandehei back to Houston, as usual with NASA planes and small teams in Kazakhstan.

Former NASA astronaut Heidi Marie Stephanie Simpiper, whose father was born in Ukraine, admits it is a difficult situation.

“We are sanctioning Russia. Companies are quitting business in Russia, but you still have a US government, or space agency, that is doing business with Russia,” she says. I did. She separates the two sides of the space station.

In addition to threatening to withdraw from the space station and drop it in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, Rogozin covered the flags of other countries with Soyuz rockets awaiting launch by Internet satellites earlier this month. The launch was canceled after the customer. The London-based OneWeb rejected his request not to use the satellite for military purposes, and the British government stopped its financial support.

The European Space Agency is also upset. After missing the 2020 launch deadline for the Mars rover, the project was on track for the September takeoff from Kazakhstan. Currently, it may take off until the next opportunity, 2024. Earth and Mars were properly coordinated, and Russia pulled staff away from the French-operated launch site in South America and suspended the launch of the European satellite Soyuz.

This all adds countless junk to the debris that already surrounds the Earth, in addition to the Russian government’s satellite attack missile test in November, four Americans and two Russians on the space station. , Alerted one German for several days.

Jeffrey Mumber, now a member of the private Voyager space company, helped build US-Russian relations in the mid-1990s, and in 1998 the first parts of the space station were launched. He sees outposts as “one of the last holdouts of collaboration.” But he added, “If the partnership ends and, as a result, the ISS program ends prematurely, there is no turning back.”

Regardless of the situation at the space station, John Logsdon, an emeritus professor at George Washington University, hopes to mark the end of a large-scale space cooperation between Russia and the West.

“Russia is already moving towards China, and the current situation will probably accelerate that move,” he said.

While Vande Hay was silent on Twitter, Kelly and others were angry with Rogozin’s threat and went into overdrive.

Elon Musk’s Private SpaceX swiped Rogozin after Russia said it would stop supplying rocket engines to US companies (Northrop Grumman and United Launch Alliance).

At the launch last week, SpaceX officials replied: “It’s time to fly the American broom and hear the sound of freedom.”


The Associated Press’s Department of Health Sciences is supported by the Science Education Department of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.


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