15 September 2023: NASA astronaut Loral O'Hara with Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub before launching to the International Space Station (ISS)
Photo: MAXIM SHIPENKOV / EPA
According to official information, Russia is now ready to extend the agreement with the United States on joint space flights to the International Space Station ISS. An additional agreement for the continuation of cross flights for the years 2024 and 2025 is being prepared, said the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, according to the Interfax news agency.
The ISS is one of the few objects on which Americans and Russians are still working together after the outbreak of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine at the end of February 2022. So far, cosmonauts and astronauts have also flown into space together. On Friday, US astronaut Loral O'Hara went to the ISS with cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Niolai Chub aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule.
In the meantime, Russia had announced due to the tensions that it would cease cooperation after 2024 and set up its own station to orbit the Earth. However, since the construction of the station takes time, Moscow later announced that it would consider remaining on board the ISS until 2028.
Three hours to the ISS
The Soyuz launch vehicle with the two cosmonauts and the astronaut was launched on Friday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The space capsule docked with the ISS at 21:54 Moscow time (20:54 CEST), Interfax reported. The flight from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppe to the ISS took just over three hours – less than many domestic trips by train or car.
According to the plan, O'Hara will remain in space for about six months, Kononenko and Chub even for about a year. During the expedition, the crew of the ISS will exit into the cosmos several times, and four cargo flights will also reach the ISS during this period. In addition, numerous scientific experiments are planned. For Kononenko, it is already the fifth flight. O'Hara and Chub, on the other hand, celebrated their premieres.