MOSCOW – Moscow expects NASA to start taking cosmonauts to the International Space Station again and is hopeful that cooperation can resume next year, the head of the Russian space agency was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Russia has been the only country capable of delivering people to the ISS since 2011, when the U.S. space agency retired its space shuttle and divert resources towards deeper space exploration.
But the U.S agency resumed flights to the ISS last month with its new Crew Dragon spacecraft, on which Moscow expects Washington to find berths for cosmonauts.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, said he and his U.S. counterparts had discussed the issue, alongside extending Russia’s participation in the space station’s upkeep beyond 2025, according to an interview published by Interfax.
Strained relations between Washington and Moscow have extended into space, but Rogozin said the two agencies planned to finalise the Crew Dragon deal in the first half of 2022 when NASA chief Bill Nelson visited Moscow.
Earlier this month Rogozin mentioned Anna Kikina, the only female cosmonaut at Roscosmos, as a likely nominee for such a flight.
In November, U.S. officials accused Russia of endangering the ISS after generating a debris field in low-Earth orbit that they said would pose a hazard to space activities for years.
In early December, Roscosmos said the ISS had performed a manoeuvre to temporarily swerve away from a fragment of a U.S. launch vehicle.