NASA astronaut ready for Soyuz flight to ISS

WASHINGTON — A NASA astronaut flying to the International Space Station on a Soyuz spacecraft subsequent month says his coaching hasn’t been affected by tensions with Russia or uncertainty in regards to the standing of his mission.

Frank Rubio is scheduled to launch to the ISS Sept. 21 on the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, joined by Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin. He will spend six months on the station as a part of the Expedition 68 crew.

Rubio would be the first NASA astronaut to fly on a Soyuz since Mark Vande Hei returned from the station in March after spending almost one yr on the station. That return occurred a month after Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, prompting a sequence of measures that severed most area cooperation between Russia and the West aside from the ISS.

In a name with reporters Aug. 22, Rubio mentioned a “good and strong relationship” remained in place between NASA and the Russian area company Roscosmos on the ISS regardless of the invasion. “This crew swap really represents the ongoing effort of tremendous teams on both sides and amazing people that make this happen,” he mentioned.

“I think it’s important that, when we’re at moments of possible tension elsewhere, human spaceflight and exploration, something that both agencies are incredibly passionate about, remains a form of diplomacy and partnership where we can find common ground and keep achieving great things together,” he added.

Rubio mentioned he will get alongside nicely together with his two Russian crewmates. “We all have similar priorities,” he mentioned. “Our main focus is to make this mission happen as safely and as productively as possible.”

Rubio is the primary to fly underneath an “integrated crews” or seat barter settlement between NASA and Roscosmos finalized July 15. The settlement permits NASA astronauts to fly on Soyuz autos in alternate for Russian cosmonauts flying on business crew autos, with no funds exchanged between the businesses. Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina will fly on the SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the ISS on the finish of September.

Delays in finalizing the settlement between the American and Russian governments raised questions on whether or not it might be accomplished in time to permit Rubio to fly on Soyuz MS-22. However, he mentioned he wasn’t nervous about that uncertainty whereas coaching for the mission.

“I had confidence in the team that it would happen,” he mentioned. “At the same time, there was the confidence of knowing that if it happened, we would be ready, and if it didn’t, there were going to be other opportunities.”

Rubio is in Star City, the Russian cosmonaut coaching heart outdoors Moscow, for remaining preparations for the launch. He can be there when NASA is scheduled to launch the Artemis 1 mission Aug. 29, however mentioned he didn’t know if coaching would enable him to look at the launch stay.

“Next week is finals week, so we’ll be pretty deep into our preparation for that,” he mentioned. “If I don’t get to watch it live, I will for sure watch a recording of it as soon as possible.”

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