Although nothing has yet been officially signed, NASA plans to continue flying its astronauts with the Russian Soyuz vehicle, even after US occupation vehicles have gone online, according to a spokesperson for the agency.
"Bill Gerstenmaier and a leading NASA leadership have announced their intention to have American crew members in Soyuz vehicles after 2019 and [to have] Russians in US crew vehicles," said Stephanie Schierholz, who works at NASA Headquarters in Washington Affairs is active, opposite Space.com.
Gerstenmaier is an associate administrator for NASA research and operations, a position he has held since 2005. This position gives him an immense influence on the use of the International Space Station (ISS) and the development of future Human Space programs. [Soyuz Launch Photos: Expedition 58 Crew Lifts Off for Space Station]
NASA has an agreement with Russia to fly crews on Soyuz at least in 201
And on February 28, the crew of Expedition 59 launching on a Soyuz will include two Americans: Nick Hague and Christina Koch. Haag was one of the astronauts who crashed on Expedition 57 in October and quickly returned to Earth after the failure. After its launch exceeded the accepted limit for space, Expedition 59 will officially qualify as its second space journey, while it will be Koch's first.
These new US spaceplanes fly into space at a time when NASA relies exclusively on Soyuz vehicles to send fancy astronauts into space. NASA has withdrawn its space shuttle program in 2011 and has since relied on Russian vehicles to travel to the ISS.
This agreement went largely smoothly. Launching in October was the only disruption in crew rotations since Russia became NASA's only launch service provider. (In comparison, NASA experienced a three-year shutdown on ISS flights after the Space Shuttle fleet was grounded in 2003 after the fatal accident in Columbia.
NASA and two commercial crew providers, Boeing and SpaceX, are now standing SpaceX announces its first unmanned test flight with the human spacecraft Dragon in 2019. Boeing is expected to launch its own unarmoured flight in the following months, and once approved for use by the aircraft, will be used by astronauts
In August, NASA unveiled nine US astronauts launching the first certification flights for Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Dragon, the flight crews following certification were not announced, but Schierholz said these flights would include crew members from outside the US – a shot NASA fully credits that it extends to Russians. NASA said that after certification, these flights will be fully operational and will be regular long-duration rotation missions, just like today's Soyuz missions.
Schierholz added that simultaneous flying of Russian and US vehicles will cause a "firing" of the crew's transport to the ISS.] It also makes sense for both Americans and Russians to fly with the two vehicle sets as the space station It consists of two different segments: one Russian and one American, which includes several modules from other countries, and because these two segments are quite different, Schierholz said that the operational requirements are best practice, always one American and one Russian on the ISS at the same time
"The intention is that there will continue to be mixed crews on all vehicles heading to the space station," she said.
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