HOUSTON (NASA PR) — To ensure continued safe operations of the International Space Station (station), protect the lives of astronauts, and ensure continuous U.S. presence in space, NASA will resume integrated crews on U.S. crew spacecraft and the Russian Soyuz with the Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos.
Flying integrated crews ensures there are appropriately trained crew members on board the station for essential maintenance and spacewalks. It also protects against contingencies such as a problem with any crew spacecraft, serious crew medical issues, or an emergency aboard the station that requires a crew and the vehicle they are assigned to return to Earth sooner than planned.
Integrated crews have been the norm throughout the International Space Station Program in order to maintain safe operation of the space station. Five space agencies (the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, NASA, and Roscosmos) operate the station, with each space agency responsible for managing and controlling the hardware it provides. The station was designed to be interdependent and relies on contributions from each space agency to function. No one agency has the capability to function independent of the others. The no-exchange-of-funds arrangement includes transportation to and from the International Space Station and comprehensive mission support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, flight operations, landing and crew rescue services. The first missions to include integrated crews under this agreement will be in September 2022.
With the agreement in place, NASA has assigned astronaut Frank Rubio to an upcoming mission as a flight engineer and member of the Expedition 68 crew, and Loral O’Hara as a flight engineer and member of the Expedition 69 crew. Rubio, along with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin of Roscosmos, is scheduled to launch Wednesday, Sept. 21, on the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. O’Hara, along with cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub, is scheduled to launch spring 2023 on the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft.
Roscosmos has assigned cosmonaut Anna Kikina as a flight engineer and member of the Expedition 67/68 crew, and cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev as a flight engineer and member of the Expedition 68/69 crew. Kikina, along with NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, is targeted to launch on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 in September from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Fedyayev, along with NASA astronauts Steve Bowen and Woody Hoburg are targeted to launch on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 in spring 2023.