SpaceX is set to launch a Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station amid global tensions over the war in Ukraine

An astronaut, the only Russian to board a US spacecraft amid global tensions over the war in Ukraine, blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX rocket for the first mission led by a female pilot.

Russia’s Anna Kikina changed position with a NASA astronaut who took her seat on a Russian Soyuz flight bound for the International Space Station last month under a new ride-sharing agreement signed by NASA and Roscosmos in July.

Joined by Nicole Onabu Man, the first Aboriginal woman to go into space and the first woman to take the captain’s seat of the SpaceX Crew Dragon – NASA’s Josh Cassada and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Koichi Wakata are also part of the historical history. Crew 5.

The rocket is scheduled to lift off at 12 p.m. EDT, and the crew is scheduled to dock at the International Space Station about 29 hours later Thursday evening to begin a 150-day science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory 250 miles above Earth.

NASA's Fifth Crew: (from left to right) NASA astronauts, Commander Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata

NASA’s Fifth Crew: (from left to right) NASA astronauts, Commander Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata

Russia's Anna Kekina (pictured) changed position with a NASA astronaut who took her seat on a Russian Soyuz flight bound for the International Space Station last month.  She is the first Russian to fly on an American missile since 2002

Russia’s Anna Kekina (pictured) changed position with a NASA astronaut who took her seat on a Russian Soyuz flight bound for the International Space Station last month. She is the first Russian to fly on an American missile since 2002

The four personnel wait patiently inside the Dragon crew capsule, dubbed Endurance, atop a Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Earlier on Wednesday, pre-flight steps were made, specifically stepping out of the barn in their elegant white suits to say goodbye to friends and family.

The four spaceflight heroes were then transported to the launch pad in two white Tesla vehicles.

The mission marks the fifth full crew from the International Space Station NASA has flown aboard a SpaceX since Elon Musk’s special rocket project began sending American astronauts back in May 2020, nearly a decade after a US rocket was launched from American soil. .

Kekina will be the fifth Russian woman to be sent into space as a historically male-dominated cosmonaut.

“In general, I don’t care,” she said in a recent interview, ignoring the novelty of her Roscosmos position.

The four individuals wait patiently inside the Dragon Crew capsule, dubbed Endurance

The four individuals wait patiently inside the Dragon Crew capsule, dubbed Endurance

Crew-5 is waiting inside the Dragon capsule, dubbed Endurance.  The countdown clock hasn't started yet, but it's set to start before the 12pm launch time.

Crew-5 is waiting inside the Dragon capsule, dubbed Endurance. The countdown clock hasn’t started yet, but it’s set to start before the 12pm launch time.

Pictured: Expedition Leader Nicole Mann and Pilot Josh Cassada, along with astronaut Jaxa Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kekina.

Pictured: Expedition Leader Nicole Mann and Pilot Josh Cassada, along with astronaut Jaxa Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kekina.

“But I understand the responsibility for that because I represent the people of my country.”

Commander Mann, a Marine colonel and combat pilot who has conducted combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, has a master’s degree in engineering specializing in fluid mechanics.

As a registered member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, Mann will become the first Native American woman to fly into space.

The only other Native American ever launched into orbit was John Herrington, who flew on a shuttle mission in 2002.

The pilot designated for Wednesday’s launch is fellow NASA MAN astronaut and fellow spaceflight rookie Cassada, a US Navy pilot and test pilot with a Ph.D. in high-energy particle physics.

The JAXA crew wraps up veteran astronaut Wakata, an expert in robotics, on his fifth journey into space.

The Crew-5 team will be welcomed by seven ISS passengers – the Crew-4 team of three Americans and an Italian astronaut – as well as two Russians and the NASA astronaut who flew with them into orbit on the Soyuz flight.

Newcomers have been commissioned to run more than 200 experiments, many of them focused on medical research ranging from 3D “bio-printing” of human tissue to studying bacteria cultured in microgravity.

ISS, the length of a football field and the largest artificial object in space, has been continuously occupied since November 2000, and is run by a consortium led by the United States and Russia that includes Canada, Japan and 11 European countries.

Russia revealed in July that it plans to withdraw from the International Space Station by 2024 and use its own space station.

However, days later, news broke that the nation had decided to keep its astronauts in the orbiting laboratory until their orbital position was built – but that wouldn’t happen before 2028.

There is also tension between the United States and Russia amid the war with Ukraine and NASA does not want any part of the rift.

Earlier on Wednesday, pre-flight steps were made, specifically stepping out of the barn in their elegant white suits to say goodbye to friends and family.  The four spaceflight heroes were then transported to the launch pad in two white Tesla vehicles

Earlier on Wednesday, pre-flight steps were made, specifically stepping out of the barn in their elegant white suits to say goodbye to friends and family. The four spaceflight heroes were then transported to the launch pad in two white Tesla vehicles

NASA in July condemned the Russian space agency after three cosmonauts demonstrated anti-Ukrainian propaganda on the International Space Station.  They carried the flags of the Luhansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic - two Russian-backed breakaway regions

NASA in July condemned the Russian space agency after three cosmonauts demonstrated anti-Ukrainian propaganda on the International Space Station. They carried the flags of the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic – two Russian-backed breakaway regions

Also in July, the three cosmonauts currently on the International Space Station displayed anti-Ukrainian propaganda on board, and NASA issued a strong condemnation of the Russian space agency.

The three were seen carrying flags of the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic – two Russian-backed breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine recognized by Moscow and Syria as independent states.

In response to the images released by the Russian space company Roscosmos, NASA said it “strongly rebukes Russia’s use of the International Space Station for political purposes in support of its war against Ukraine.”

NASA may be far from war, but Musk has not kept his views to himself and shared a Twitter poll suggesting Ukraine should remain neutral and make a peace deal with Russia.

On Tuesday, Russia backed Musk’s “peace deal.”

On Tuesday, the Kremlin said it was a ‘positive step’ that Musk was drawing up a peace agreement, just hours later

Musk criticized a call for a negotiated settlement of the disastrous seven-month conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

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