The first Roscosmos-NASA cross flight aboard a Soyuz spacecraft launched into space from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft’s crew comprised Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and NASA astronaut Francisco Rubio.
Intended for the new International Space Station (ISS) crew, the Soyuz rocket was installed at the launchpad on Sunday (Sept. 18) ahead of its upcoming launch at Baikonur.
A Soyuz-2.1a rocket with a Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft also carries about 120 kilograms of payload.
NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos signed an agreement in July allowing Russian cosmonauts to fly on U.S.-made spacecraft in exchange for American astronauts being able to ride on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.
The longstanding collaboration between the United States and Russia in operating the ISS appears to be on solid footing even as tensions between the two countries escalated over the Ukraine crisis.
Roscosmos and NASA signed an agreement over the flights of integrated crews on Russian and American crewed transport ships on July 14, 2022.
This most recent ISS space mission is set to last 188 days until March 28, 2023.
The ISS itself was born in part from a foreign policy initiative to improve U.S.-Russian relations following the collapse of the Soviet Union and end of Cold War rivalry that spurred the original U.S.-Soviet space race.
But U.S.-Russian ties have frayed since Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea region from Ukraine, prompting Congress to ban new government contracts with U.S. companies using Russian rocket engineers for national security launches after 2022, according to the website SpacePolicyOnline.com.
However, none of the sanctions levied by Washington in response to Russia’s military incursions into eastern Ukraine this week were directed at Russia’s space program.
Under the NASA-Roscosmos agreement, the next launch is scheduled for October 3, 2022 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, using a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The mission will include NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina.