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NASA and Roscosmos Reach Swap Deal for ISS Transportation

By Rachel Jewett | July 15, 2022
      ISS NanoRacks HoPS

      The International Space Station (ISS). Photo: NASA

      NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos have reached an agreement to resume integrated crews on U.S. crew spacecraft and the Russian Soyuz to transport crew to and from the International Space Station (ISS). The news broke Friday, the same day that Russia removed Roscomos Director General Dmitry Rogozin from his post, installing Yury Borisov, former deputy prime minister. 

      The agreement with NASA is a no-exchange-of-funds arrangement that includes transportation to and from the International Space Station and comprehensive mission support, including landing and crew rescue services. NASA confirmed the agreement on Friday. 

      “Flying integrated crews ensures there are appropriately trained crew members on board the station for essential maintenance and spacewalks. … “Integrated crews have been the norm throughout the International Space Station Program in order to maintain safe operation of the space station. The station was designed to be interdependent and relies on contributions from each space agency to function. No one agency has the capability to function independent of the others,” NASA said in a statement. 

      NASA and Roscosmos and previously shared seats on the U.S. Shuttle and Soyuz rocket. Then, the U.S. relied on Russian capabilities after the Shuttle was retired until SpaceX returned crewed spaceflight to the U.S. in 2020 with Crew Dragon missions. 

      Tensions related to Russia’s war in Ukraine have affected launch access in recent months. Arianespace suspended use of the Soyuz launch vehicle after Rogozin as head of Roscosmos put steep demands on the launcher and customer OneWeb.  

      Rogozin had led Roscosmos since late May 2018, and made a number of incendiary comments on Twitter about international space during the war. According to Russian state media, a Kremlin spokesman said Rogozin’s resignation is “not connected to any complaints to his job” and he “will receive a new appointment on time.” 

      The first missions to include integrated crews under this agreement will be in September 2022. A crew with American and Russian members is scheduled to launch on Sept. 21 on a Soyuz  spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Another crew, with American, Russian, and Japanese members, is targeted to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 crew mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.