NASA and Roscosmos leaders speak as plans finalized for flying astronaut on upcoming Soyuz flight – SpaceNews

WASHINGTON — It’s more and more probably {that a} NASA astronaut will on a Russian Soyuz mission to the Worldwide House Station in April because the company finalizes an settlement with its Russian counterpart.

In a Feb. 25 statement, Roscosmos stated that its director basic Dmitry Rogozin, spoke that day with NASA Performing Administrator Steve . The dialog, Roscosmos said, included congratulations from Rogozin on the touchdown final week of NASA’s Perseverance Mars and discussions of the launch of Russia’s Arktika-M satellite tv for pc to watch situations within the Arctic.

The assertion additionally talked about “mutual content material with the extent of cooperation between Roscosmos and the US area company together with the Worldwide House Station program” that appeared to incorporate Soyuz flights. “The events additionally touched upon the association to take care of steady presence of Russian and American crews on the ISS,” the readout stated.

NASA introduced Feb. 9 that it was working to obtain a seat on the next Soyuz mission to the ISS, Soyuz MS-18, scheduled for launch April 9. The company stated it will receive the seat via the change of “in-kind companies” moderately than a direct buy, an association believed to contain a 3rd get together, business spaceflight firm Axiom House.

That announcement was tied to the publication of a “sources ” procurement submitting, a crucial step to determine any different preparations earlier than concluding the deal. The deadline for responding to the submitting was Feb. 19.

NASA officers have stated little publicly about its efforts to acquire the Soyuz seat, citing the continuing procurement. “That’s an energetic procurement proper now, and I’m simply actually not able the place we will discuss it,” Kenny Todd, deputy supervisor of the ISS program at NASA, stated throughout a Feb. 24 briefing a couple of pair of upcoming spacewalks on the station.

Todd declined to say even who NASA is contemplating to fly on that Soyuz seat, if it does receive it. Nevertheless, a Roscosmos press release Feb. 24 that mentioned coaching by Russian cosmonauts for the upcoming mission appeared to substantiate the identification of that astronaut.

In a single picture, cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov had been coaching in a simulator. Seen on their flight fits was the Soyuz MS-18 mission patch, which included their names together with “Vandei Hei,” an obvious reference to NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei. He has been thought-about the almost definitely astronaut to fly the mission, on condition that he was the backup to Kate Rubins on the earlier Soyuz mission to the station final October, alongside Novitsky and Dubrov. Vande Hei had additionally been seen in some pictures in current months coaching alongside Russian cosmonauts assigned to the prime and backup crews.

patch
The Soyuz MS-18 mission patch with the names of the crew, together with Mark Vande Hei. Credit score: Roscosmos

The Roscosmos assertion didn’t point out Vande Hei, but additionally didn’t point out Sergey Korsakov, initially assigned to Soyuz MS-18. Rogozin told the Russian news agency TASS Feb. 24 that the upcoming Soyuz flight would have “a world crew,” however didn’t elaborate.

NASA officers have lengthy talked about having “combined crews” on each Soyuz and business crew missions to the ISS, with a NASA bartering seats on CST-100 Starliner and Crew Dragon spacecraft in change for seats on Soyuz spacecraft. Doing so would guarantee a minimum of one Russian and one American on the station always ought to one car undergo issues that take it out of service for an prolonged interval.

That change will finally be accomplished via an settlement between NASA and Roscosmos, however NASA officers have stated that might not be accomplished in time for the April Soyuz mission. The method by which NASA, at almost the final minute, is searching for to get a seat on the Soyuz launch has raised questions on Capitol Hill.

In a Feb. 23 letter to Jurczyk, Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Brian Babin (R-Texas), the rating members of the complete Home Science Committee and its area subcommittee, respectively, requested for a briefing on NASA’s plans to acquire the Soyuz seat. “After spending billions of taxpayer {dollars} on growing capabilities to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, it is crucial for Congress to grasp NASA’s current agreements and future plans for accessing the Worldwide House Station,” they wrote.

NASA didn’t launch its personal readout of the between Jurczyk and Rogozin, and the company didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the Russian assertion.

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