NASA continues working with Rososcosmos on a seat exchange agreement despite missing a deadline last month to finalize the deal to allow equipment exchange to begin this fall.
In April, NASA International Space Station officials said they needed an agreement between NASA and Roscosmos concluded in late June so that Russian astronaut Anna Kikina could fly on a Crew-5 Crew Dragon flight in early September with an American astronomer. , possibly Frank Rubio flew in with the Soyuz MS-22 campaign launched later in September.
While the Russian government gave its approval on June 10 to allow Rososcosmos to conclude an agreement with NASA on the exchange of seats, no institution has confirmed the deal exists or completed the staff assignments on the two missiles launched in September.
“NASA continues to work on an agreement with Roscosmos where we will often fly a combined crew to the International Space Station in Soyuz and a spacecraft of commercial personnel,” NASA spokesman Josh Finch told SpaceNews on July 1.
Agencies appear to be keeping the opportunity to exchange seats in the two September programs. Roscosmos announced on June 25 that Kikina would be traveling to the United States for further training, including qualifying for the Crew Dragon suit. The statement said Kikina was still considering a Crew-5 campaign, which Rososcosos said was scheduled for launch on September 1. NASA had not yet announced a launch date for the trip.
NASA has worked long and hard to secure a seat deal with Roscosmos to allow “mixed crews” to have at least one NASA star and one Roscosmos cosmonaut at the station if Soyuz or commercial vehicles are suspended for too long. That representation has continued even after the Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted relations between Russia and other ISS allies.
“We are still in the process of rotating seats,” NASA Secretary Bill Nelson said on June 15 at a joint press conference with Josef Aschbacher, director-general of the European Space Agency, talking about trust between parts of the U.S. and Russia at the station. “So, we will continue that way.” He did not provide a plan to fulfill the agreement to change seats.
On the other hand, NASA astronauts were training potential Soyuz aircraft for the ISS. The Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center released images of June 29 in the latest Soyuz spacecraft emergency water training. Among those who took part in the movement was NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson, who was identified as part of the Expedition 70 team.