Russian, American, German Launch to ISS on Soyuz TMA-13M – UPDATE

Russian, American, German Launch to ISS on Soyuz TMA-13M – UPDATE

UPDATE, May 28, 9:50 pm EDTDocking took place successfully a few minutes early at 9:44 pm EDT.

ORIGINAL STORY:  A multinational crew launched to the International Space Station (ISS) this afternoon (May 28) Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) as international cooperation in human spaceflight, at least, continues unaffected by the geopolitical tensions between Russia and the United States and Europe over the situation in Ukraine.

Russian space agency cosmonaut Maxim Suraev, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst (a German) launched on time at 3:57 pm EDT (1:57 am May 29 local time at the launch site in Kazakhstan) in their Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft. 

They are scheduled to dock at 9:48 pm EDT this evening, taking the expedited route to the ISS.  They will join three crew members already aboard, two Russians and one American:  Alexander Skvortsov, Oleg Artemyev and Steve Swanson.

The United States and Europe have imposed sanctions on Russia and taken other actions because of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.  Among the other actions was directing U.S. government agencies, including NASA, to limit their interactions with Russia, but ISS cooperation was specifically excluded. 

However, one of the Russian individuals who has been sanctioned is Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin who oversees Russia’s aerospace sector.  Rogozin made comments during an April 2014 press conference and via Twitter warning that sanctions could boomerang.  He also linked the imposition of sanctions to the ISS when he joked that perhaps the United States should use a trampoline to get American astronauts to the ISS.

The United States is dependent on Russia for launching astronauts to the ISS because it terminated the space shuttle program in 2011.

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