It wasn’t that long ago U.S. astronauts were completely dependent on Russian rockets to get to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA was paying about $60 million per seat on the Soyuz spacecraft. Well, times have certainly changed with SpaceX now ferrying astronauts, Boeing working on its own crewed Starliner capsule, and Northrop Grumman already helping with cargo.
Now NASA is mixing it up. NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos agreed this weak to place astronauts on the Soyuz again and cosmonauts on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. Bloomberg reports NASA stated that such mixed crews “ensures there are appropriately trained crew members on board the station for essential maintenance and spacewalks.” In other words, with two launches to the ISS planned in September, a mixing of the crews will ensure some stability in space if only one makes it to the station. Not a bad idea.
Even with all the rhetoric and stunts taking place, it’s nice to see a little bit of common sense prevailing.