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Roscosmos has agreed with NASA to replace its cosmonaut with an American one in the Soyuz MS-18 crew
As expected, NASA has agreed with the state corporation Roscosmos to buy out a seat in the nearest Russian spacecraft, which will go to the International Space Station on April 9, 2021. Together with cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Peter Dubrov, NASA specialist Mark Vande Hei will be delivered to the ISS.
On board the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft, he will take the place of Russian cosmonaut Sergei Korsakov, who was part of the main crew of the long-term expedition ISS-65. This was done by the interdepartmental commission for the selection of cosmonauts within the framework of the existing obligations of Roscosmos, signed with Axiom Space.
As noted, the change in the composition of the crew was carried out at the urgent requests of the American side: NASA voiced a corresponding wish only at the end of 2021, so the Russian side had to change the agreed flight program. “Roscosmos is making this decision, confirming its commitment to joint agreements and the spirit of joint use of the International Space Station,” the state corporation noted.
Mark Vande Hai (NASA)
It is worth noting that the replacement crew of the ISS-65 expedition was also replaced: the place of cosmonaut Dmitry Petelin was taken by Anne McClain. Formally, such cooperation will once again continue the tradition of international crews, which has existed for over twenty years.
It should be said that on April 22, SpaceX will launch the next Crew-2 mission on the Dragon spacecraft, which will deliver two more astronauts from the American NASA agency Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese JAXA AkihikoHoshide and European Thomas Pesquet — all of them will also become members of the long-term expedition ISS-65.
As a result of these changes, the Russian presence on the ISS will diminish in favor of the American.
Crew-2 Mission Composition (NASA)