Russian Space Ship Docks On International Space Station Despite Russia’s Threats
An unmanned Russian cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station on a supply mission Friday at 9:02 a.m., a typically routine mission that carried weighty significance amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Progress 81 spacecraft launched on a Soyuz rocket at 5:32 a.m. EDT from Kazakhstan, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, carrying three tons of food, fuel and supplies.
Friday’s ISS resupply mission is Russia’s first since it invaded Ukraine in February, according to Space.com.
The trip follows Russia’s threat to leave the ISS as Russia grows increasingly isolated from the West: Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, told state media in April that Russia may leave the ISS within a year, though Rogozin’s history of incendiary comments may indicate that’s an empty threat.
The ISS is a partnership between five space agencies and 15 countries and was first launched in 1998. Collaboration in space typically transcends earthly politics, and cooperation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union during the Cold War served major symbolic significance.
Despite the ISS, the launch still stirred some contention, as the ship donned the flags of Russian-backed separatist states in Ukraine’s Donbas region. Mykhailo Federov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, noted the presence of the flags in a Tuesday tweet, saying it’s symbolic of the Donbas region largely under Russian control’s break from progress, a pun on the Russian spacecraft’s name.