Cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergey Korsakov docked their Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft at the International Space Station, as evidenced by NASA live images. Shortly thereafter, they circled the International Space Station and were greeted there by their colleagues – Russians Anton Shkaplerau and Piotr Dubrow, Americans Mark Vande Hey, Thomas Marshborn, Raja Chari, Kayla Baron and Germany’s Matthias Maurer – with cheers, hugs, handshakes, applause, thumbs up and commemorative photos.
Maurer, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on Friday, had previously announced that he wanted to invite the entire crew for a meal after docking. “Of course I want to serve the best food in Saarland,” said the Saarland native from the German news agency DPA. “I have to make sure I still have enough to eat here.”
Cooperation in space is burdened with a heavy burden
The astronaut left for humanity’s outpost on November 11 with three colleagues from NASA. He is the 12th German in space and the fourth on the International Space Station and is due to return at the end of April.
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The three cosmonauts took off from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan about three hours before docking. This was demonstrated by live images of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The missile was seen rising in the night sky over Central Asia.
In the past, unlike this time, an American astronaut or ESA astronaut typically flew with Soyuz launches. NASA has been using American spacecraft to the International Space Station again for some time.
The sanctions imposed on Moscow over the attack on Ukraine have significantly affected space cooperation between the United States and Russia – although both sides maintain that they want to continue operating the station for the time being. However, Roscosmos left the future of the International Space Station open recently after the contract expired in 2024. NASA is aiming for a period until 2030.
Maurer has field work ahead of him
The Soyuz missiles launched on Friday are named after Soviet missile designer Sergei Korolev, born in Zhytomyr in 1907. The city is now in Ukraine.
The ISS crew has a lot to do in the coming days and weeks: Maurer will be, on Wednesday, the fourth German to leave the ISS on an overseas mission. During the mission, which will take about six and a half hours at an altitude of 400 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, Maurer will take on maintenance work with his American colleague Shari.
Shari had already left for an outpatient procedure with teammate Barron on Tuesday. At the end of March, US astronaut Vande Hee will return to Earth with cosmonauts Shkaplerov and Dubrov in the Russian Soyuz space capsule.
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