Photo released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos of the landing of the Soyuz MS-1 capsule in Kazakhstan with two Russian cosmonauts and an American cosmonaut on board, March 30, 2022 (Roscosmos/Handout)
The Soyuz spacecraft brought two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut back to Earth on Wednesday from the International Space Station, a rare example of cooperation between Washington and Moscow amid tensions over Ukraine.
The Soyuz MS-19 capsule, with Russians Anton Chkaplerov and Peter Dubrov on board, as well as American Mark Vandy Hee, landed in southeast Kazakhstan at 11:28 GMT as planned, according to the photos broadcast. Russian space agency Roscosmos.
Three helicopters immediately landed next to the vehicle to carry passengers returning from space.
After several men pulled him out of the capsule, Mr. Chkaplerov pointed his thumbs up to indicate he was fine, and wore a broad grin.
“Low orbit and landing went smoothly, and the crew is in good health,” Roscosmos said in a statement.
The space agency added that the two Russian cosmonauts will be flown on a special plane to a Russian base in the Moscow region to readjust to life on Earth, a process that will last several weeks.
Astronaut Vande Hee “will depart on a NASA plane for Cologne, Germany, to refuel (for the device) before returning home,” the US space agency said, in a press release.
Russian cosmonaut Anton Chkaplerov after landing on the Soyuz MS-19 capsule on March 30, 2022 near Jezkazgan, Kazakhstan (NASA/Bill INGALLS)
The trip comes in the context of heightened tensions over Ukraine between Russia and Western countries, led by the United States, which have raised questions about many projects in space cooperation.
At the beginning of March, Roscosmos posted a video in which it was jokingly said that Mark Vandy He could stay on the International Space Station instead of returning with a Soyuz spacecraft. Faced with the anxiety of the Americans, the then Russian agency had to make sure that the cosmonaut would indeed be on the flight.
Mark Vande Hei holds the record for consecutive days spent in space by an American astronaut with 355 days.
US astronaut Mark Vande Hei after landing on the Soyuz MS-19 capsule near Jezkazgan on March 30, 2022 in Kazakhstan (NASA/Bill INGALLS)
In this context of tensions, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin, amplifying nationalist statements on social media, confirmed in mid-March that the operation of Russian ships supplying the International Space Station would be disrupted by Western sanctions against Moscow in connection with its invasion. Ukraine.
According to him, this could cause a “trench or descent” of the International Space Station.
Space cooperation between Russia and Western countries has been one of the few areas that has not suffered much from the tensions that have escalated since the 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula by Moscow.
But in recent weeks, many cooperation projects have borne the brunt of the crisis across Ukraine.
The chart shows the two Russian cosmonauts and the American cosmonaut returning to Earth on March 30 and those remaining on the International Space Station (ISS) (AFP/)
Thus the European Space Agency (ESA) announced in mid-March that it was suspending the Russian-European ExoMars mission and searching for alternatives to launching four more missions due to the attack in Ukraine.
For its part, Moscow halted the launch of the OneWeb satellite, forcing its British operator to turn to the American company, SpaceX, billionaire Elon Musk.
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