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6 Oct, 2023 12:09

US to continue using Russian spaceships – NASA official

There is no reason to cut ties since both nations benefit from the cooperation, the agency’s Sean Fuller said in a comment to TASS
US to continue using Russian spaceships – NASA official

The US space agency has no intention of cutting cooperation with Russia in manned expeditions to the International Space Station (ISS), Sean Fuller, a senior NASA official, has said. Being able to use each other’s spacecraft makes exploration safer for everyone, according to Fuller.

TASS caught up with the veteran space official, who previously headed NASA’s Human Space Flight Program office in Moscow, on the sidelines of this week’s 74th International Astronautical Congress in Baku, Azerbaijan. Fuller said he sees “no reason” for astronauts to stop using Russian Soyuz spaceships.

NASA and its Russian counterpart Roscosmos have an arrangement that allows them to use each other’s capsules. For almost a decade after retiring the Space Shuttle program, the US relied solely on Russian Soyuz flights to rotate ISS crews.

After 2020, when piloted Crew Dragon craft were cleared for manned missions, the two parties returned to a ride-sharing scheme. It was last renewed in July 2022, despite relations between Moscow and Washington having soured over the Ukraine conflict.

Fuller stressed that US-Russian cooperation could become crucial if the ISS were to encounter an emergency requiring swift evacuation. Expedition members can use whichever spacecraft is docked to return home, he explained.

The SpaseX Endurance capsule is currently in orbit, having delivered four passengers, including Russia’s Konstantin Borisov, to the station in late August. It is the third mission for the reusable capsule.

The Soyuz MS-23 was the latest spacecraft to bring back to Earth ISS crew members, including astronaut Loral O’Hara. It landed in late September.

Fuller currently works as NASA’s International Partner Manager for the Gateway Program, the project to build a space station orbiting the Moon to facilitate further missions beyond the immediate neighborhood of the Earth.