The Russian space agency has announced plans to send an actress to the space station shortly after Mr. Cruise’s plans emerge.
What problems have the Russians had recently with the space station?
Astronauts have lived aboard the Space Station, a science lab the size of a football field, for more than 20 years, and it is starting to show signs of degradation, especially on the Russian side.
Several air leaks over the Russian segment of the outpost have been detected in recent years, although none posed an immediate danger to the station’s crew. Astronauts discovered a leak in Russia’s Zvezda service module last year using tea leaves and sealed the leak with space-grade glue and tape. Another gradual air leak is underway and its source has escaped Russian space officials.
And in July, the new Russian science module, Nauka, performed a chaotic docking procedure: Shortly after locking onto the station, the module’s thrusters started firing by mistake, spinning the entire space station. a turn and a half. None of the seven astronauts on board were injured, but it was a rare “space emergency” that sent NASA and Russian officials scrambling to return the station to its normal orientation.
Who else will be going to the space station soon?
Traffic to the space station will be heavy over the next few months.
On October 30, NASA is scheduled to send a crew of three American astronauts and one European Space Agency astronaut to the space station for a stay of about six months. The mission, named Crew-3, will be NASA’s fourth trip to the station using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, a spacecraft developed with a mix of NASA and private funds.
Then, more private missions. Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire, will fly to the orbital laboratory aboard a Soyuz rocket on December 8 for a 12-day stay. Mr Maezawa, art collector and mogul behind Japanese fashion retail site Zozotown, booked his first space mission with SpaceX in 2018, with the goal of someday piloting the company’s Starship rocket. around the moon. That won’t happen until 2023, and for Mr. Maezawa’s first Soyuz flight, he’ll bring a producer and a camera to document his journey.
Then, on February 21, three private astronauts, paying $ 55 million each, will fly to the space station in a Crew Dragon capsule reserved by the company Axiom Space. They will be joined by a fourth crew member, a retired NASA astronaut who will primarily serve as their guide.
Valerie Hopkins and Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting from Moscow.