SpaceX launches Nasa crew and Russian cosmonaut to International Space Station

Astronaut exchange programme is one of few co-operating ventures between Washington and Moscow

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A SpaceX capsule carrying the next long-term International Space Station crew — including Americans and a Russian — soared into space on Wednesday in a symbolic voyage as tension between Washington and Moscow remains fraught.

Wednesday's launch marked “a new phase of our co-operation” with Nasa, said an official from the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

The SpaceX launch vehicle, comprising a Falcon 9 rocket topped with a Crew Dragon capsule, lifted off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 12pm local time.

The launch was delayed by two days because of Hurricane Ian. Docking is scheduled for Thursday at 4.57pm.

The launch could also be considered symbolic, with the space agencies' long-term astronaut exchange programme being maintained amid soaring tension over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The enduring operation on the space station remains one of the few areas of cooperation between the US and Russia.

Anna Kikina is the lone female astronaut on active duty with Roscosmos, making it the first space flight with a Russian launched from the US in two decades.

Ms Kikina thanked the Russian space agency and their ISS partners for “giving us this great opportunity.”

An American astronaut took off on a Russian Soyuz rocket for the space station two weeks ago.

Wednesday's SpaceX launch also marked the first space flight for American astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann and Josh Cassada.

Ms Mann is the first indigenous American woman to go into space with Nasa.

Also joining the space contingent was Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.

The Crew-5 mission is the fifth ISS crew that Nasa has flown on a SpaceX craft since the rocket venture began sending US astronauts into space in May 2020.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: October 06, 2022, 6:39 AM
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