Postponed due to a hurricane and in times of the most severe international tensions, NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut have arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil for the first time since the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
In the "Crew Dragon" of Elon Musk's private space company SpaceX, the so-called "Crew-5" flew on Wednesday from the Cape Canaveral spaceport in the US state of Florida. The start was actually scheduled for October 3rd, but had to be postponed due to Hurricane "Ian".
The "Crew-5" consists of the NASA astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann and her NASA colleague Josh Cassada as well as the Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and the Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina. They should arrive at the ISS on Thursday, spend around five months on board the ISS and take care of numerous scientific experiments.
The Falcon 9 rocket stage landed in the Atlantic after launch on a ship named Just Read the Instructions. As a zero-gravity mascot, "Crew-5" took an Albert Einstein toy into space. The so-called zero-g indicators begin to float when the state of weightlessness is reached.
Just about two weeks ago, the two Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin flew to the ISS together with NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, they had started on board a Soyuz capsule from the Russian cosmodrome Baikonur in the steppes of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Central Asia. In addition, the Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and the NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren and Jessica Watkins are currently on board the ISS.
The Russian invasion is putting additional strain on already difficult relations between Moscow and Washington. Russia complains that the sanctions imposed by the USA and the EU in the wake of the war are making space work more difficult, including the production of missiles that can also be used militarily. At times, the collaboration was on the brink.