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A SpaceX capsule to dock with the International Space Station carrying international astronauts

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A SpaceX capsule carrying a multinational crew of astronauts was attached to the International Space Station on Thursday after a 29-hour flight.

The mission, called Crew-5, is a joint operation of NASA, SpaceX and Government Partners around the world, including — for the first time — Russia, despite rising tensions on the ground surrounding the invasion of Ukraine. the mission It was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 12 p.m. ET Wednesday.

The Crew Dragon capsule spent a day making a slow, methodical climb toward the space station. As it approached the International Space Station, the spacecraft, which is fully autonomous, used its small thrusters on board to stay oriented as it entered its docking port. She first made physical contact with the International Space Station at 5:01 p.m. ET.

After ensuring that there was a vacuum-tight seal between the SpaceX spacecraft and the International Space Station, the hatch that separated the capsule and the space station was officially opened. joining Starship.

As is customary for astronauts arriving at the International Space Station, the crew was able to send a video message back to Earth that was broadcast on NASA. Live broadcast.

The crew includes astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada of NASA. astronaut Koichi Wakata JAXA, or Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; Cosmonaut Anna Kikina of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

They were welcomed by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who on a previous SpaceX mission flew to the International Space Station and recently became the first female commander of the space station.

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“It’s great to finally share with you guys. This is a very special crew because it is the first time a Russian cosmonaut has flown aboard the Crew Dragon, so we welcome you especially to Anna (Kkina),” Cristoforetti said.

Space flight represents a historic moment, as Man . has become The first Native American woman to travel into space.

“Look mom, I’m finally in space!” She said in a live broadcast from the International Space Station. Mann also serves as mission commander for Crew 5, making her the first woman ever to take on such a role in a SpaceX mission.

Kekina, who is also testing her first-ever spaceflight, shared this festive moment.

“We’re overflowing with emotion,” Kekina added.

A Russian translator took over the assignment shortly after her dispatch, saying: “I am very happy to be here.”

Then, through the translator, Kekina added: “A lot of people are working hard and will continue to work hard to make sure … that the exploration of (manned) shared space will continue to develop further. We are here and we are living proof of that,” she said.

Kikina’s participation in this ride is part of the ride-sharing agreement inked By NASA and Roscosmos in July. Despite the geopolitical tensions between the United States And the Russia arrives near As the war in Ukraine escalates, NASA has repeatedly said that its partnership with Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, on the International Space Station is vital to continuing the space station’s operations and the valuable scientific research conducted on board.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Sergei Krikalev, executive director of Roscosmos’ human spaceflight programs, commented on the importance of the US-Russia partnership.

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“We continue what began many years ago, in 1975 when the Apollo Soyuz crew worked together,” Krikalev said, referring to a meeting in space in 1975 that became a symbol of post-Cold War cooperation between the United States. and Russia. “Now we continue with it.”

Crew-5 astronauts will spend about five months in space. During their stay, they are expected to perform a spacewalk to maintain the space station’s exterior, as well as performance More than 200 scientific experiments.

According to a NASA statement, the “experiments will include studies on printing human organs in space, understanding the fuel systems that operate on the Moon, and a better understanding of heart disease.”

This is the sixth manned mission by SpaceX, the privately owned company headed by controversial tech billionaire Elon Musk, on behalf of NASA. The program stems from $2.6 billion Doing business with NASA and SpaceX It took place nearly a decade ago As part of the space agency’s effort to hand over all transportation to and from the International Space Station to the private sector, NASA can focus on deeper exploration of the solar system.

Aerospace giant Boeing has also signed a similar contract, although it is still operating its commercial Starliner spacecraft. Its first crewed flight could occur as early as 2023.

Meanwhile, NASA continued to expand its partnership with SpaceX, increasing the value of Comprehensive deal to include 15 manned missions totaling more than $4.9 billion.