Russia will send its only active female cosmonaut, Anna Kikina, to the International Space Station (ISS) in August or September, the Russian space agency Roscosmos announced on Thursday.

Anna Kikina, a 37-year-old engineer, will be the fifth Russian female professional cosmonaut to be sent into space by Russia, as the United States and Europeans have sent dozens of women to the ISS.

A first Russian woman sent in 1963

Last year, Roscosmos announced that Anna Kikina would fly aboard the Crew Dragon of SpaceX, the company of Elon Musk, if a partnership between Moscow and NASA was signed. On Thursday, the Russian space agency clarified that if the deal will be finalized, Anna Kikina will go in August, while Nasa astronaut Francisco Rubio will take her place aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket that will lift off in September. . If this agreement is not finalized, Anna Kikina will take off in September aboard a Russian rocket.

The last Russian cosmonaut sent by Moscow into space was Elena Serova, who spent 167 days aboard the ISS from September 2014 to March 2015. The USSR had sent the first woman in space in history, Valentina Tereshkova, June 16, 1963. She was followed by Svetlana Savitskaya, the first woman to perform a spacewalk, in July 1984. Elena Kondakova, who was the third woman to travel in space, has for his part carried out a five-month mission aboard the Mir orbital station in 1994-1995.

This mission was considered the first long-duration flight performed by a woman.

Three Russian cosmonauts aboard the ISS

Last October, Russia also sent into space an actress, Yulia Peressild, who spent 12 days aboard the ISS to shoot scenes for the first film in orbit, with director Klim Chipenko.

Roscosmos also said on Thursday that three Russian cosmonauts - Oleg Artemiev, Denis Matveev and Sergei Korsakov - will fly to the ISS aboard a Soyuz rocket in March.

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"For the first time in the history of the ISS, the Soyuz crew will include three Russian professional cosmonauts" and not a multinational crew, the space agency said.

A representative of Roscosmos explained the composition of this all-Russian crew by the fact that a contract with NASA on joint flights was coming to an end.

"Discussions are currently underway to extend the contract," said the representative.

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