18 Sep 2023 16:00

Roscosmos preparing additional agreement to continue ISS-bound cross-flights with NASA after 2024 - Borisov

BAIKONUR. Sept 18 (Interfax) - Roscosmos is drawing up an additional agreement to continue to swap seats on flights to the International Space Station (ISS) until 2025, Roscosmos General Director Yury Borisov said.

"Today we are preparing amendment No. 2 to the agreement whereby we plan to conduct cross-flight missions in 2024-2025," Borisov told reporters on Friday.

Russia's Soyuz-2.1a launch vehicle carrying the Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft with Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O'Hara on board blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Friday.

O'Hara flew to the ISS under the cross-flights agreement between Russia and the United States.

In July 2022, under the ISS program, Roscosmos and NASA signed an agreement on cross-flights by three Russian cosmonauts on American Crew Dragon manned spacecraft and three American astronauts on Russian Soyuz MS manned spacecraft in 2022-2024.

On March 1, Roscosmos said the Russian-U.S. agreement on cross-flights to the ISS had been expanded. Roscosmos and NASA agreed on an additional flight of a Russian cosmonaut to the space station on a Crew Dragon spacecraft. As reported, cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin will travel to the ISS as part of the Crew 8 mission in the first half of 2024.

Russia and the U.S. have also agreed on an additional flight of an American astronaut on a Russian Soyuz MS spacecraft, Roscosmos Executive Director for Manned Space Programs Sergei Krikalev told Interfax. The experience of cross-flights to the ISS has been positive, and the parties believe the agreement should go beyond 2024, Krikalev said.

Currently, two ISS missions are underway under the agreement between Roscosmos and NASA. The Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Frank Rubio along with Russians Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin was launched to the space station in September 2022. They will return to Earth on September 27 onboard Soyuz MS-23. In August, the U.S. Crew Dragon 7 spacecraft delivered Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov to the space station.