American astronaut Frank Rubio of Salvadoran origin has today become the twelfth Hispanic to reach the International Space Station (ISS). And he did it aboard a Russian Soyuz ship, which also means the resumption of cross-flights in full tension between the US and Russia due to the military operation in Ukraine.
The Soyuz, named Ktsiolkovsky, was launched at 13:54 GMT in honor of the 165th birthday of the founder of theoretical cosmonautics Konstantin Tsiolkovsky Baikonur CosmodromeIn the Kazakh steppe, according to plan.
Together with Rubio, a flight engineer, they travel to space Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev, commander of the ISS Tribulation 68, and Sergei Petelin. After a three-hour journey and two Earth orbits, the Soyuz will dock with the Russian ISS module Rasvet and about two hours later the hatches between the spacecraft and the station will be opened.
The trio will be joined by Expedition 67 Commander Oleg Artemiev, cosmonauts Denis Matveyev and Sergei Korsakov, as well as NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren and Jessica Watkins, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
Twelfth Hispanic and 1st Salvadoran
Rubio, the first astronaut of Salvadoran origin to travel to space, in the feat of a Hispanic who sets foot on the ISS for Alain Ochoa of Mexican descent; Miguel López-Alegria, born in Madrid; Carlos Noriega of Peruvian roots; Franklin Chang-Diaz, American—Costa Rican; Brazilian Spaniards Pedro Duque and Marcos Pontes; and John D. “Danny” Olivas of Mexican descent.
Colombian-American Jorge Zamka also flew for the International Orbital Platform; Joseph “Joe” Hayes, of Puerto Rican roots; Mexican-born Jose Hernandez, and Serena Auón-Chancellor, Cuban-American.
Rubio, 46, expressed his “great pride” before flying into space to be able to represent not only his country, the United States, but his family in El Salvador, where his mother, Myrna Argueta, lives. and where he spent the first six years of his life.
This is the first flight of a NASA astronaut since being selected by the US space agency in 2017. For five years he has been preparing to fly into space, and the last two specifically for this mission, for which he has flown in a plane. Supersonic T-38 on a regular basis and joining Russian and American centrifugal machines.
“Everything in space will be interesting to me. And of course, every 90 minutes we will observe Earth,” he told a news conference in Baikonur the day before. Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin will spend six months on the orbital platform, during which there will be five spacewalks and There will be research on microgravity and its effect on the human body.As well as experiments related to the possibility of manufacturing human organs.
The NASA astronaut, who is married to Deborah Rubio, with whom he has four teenage children, said Tuesday that he looks forward to the opportunity to do spacewalks. “I will pay special attention to the darkness of the universe and I will enjoy the view of the stars,” he assured.
Rubio, who was born in Los Angeles but considers himself a native of Miami, graduated from the United States Military Academy in West Point and received his MD from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda (Maryland) .
Before attending medical school, he served as a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot and flew over 1,100 hours, including 600 limited combat and imminent threat hours, during deployments to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Rubio is a Family Physician and Board Certified Flight Surgeon.
friendship amid tension
The mission was a series of cross-flights with the participation of crew members from the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, on American Crew Dragon ships and NASA astronauts on the Russian Soyuz amid tensions between the two space powers over the Russian military’s campaign in Ukraine. Opens new series.
Rubio admitted to Russia a month earlier that he had discussed “very briefly” with Petelin and Prokopyev what is currently happening in Ukraine, but immediately insisted that, in his opinion, “focus on the mission”. It’s important to do and develop the trust that we need as a team.”
“We try to avoid anything that might affect that camaraderie and focus on supporting each other to accomplish this mission safely,” he said.
In early October, Crew Dragon will launch with Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina along with American astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Kasada and Japanese cosmonaut Koichi Wakata.
The agreement was signed last July and initially provided for the exchange of three seats on the Soyuz and Crew Dragon, but the Roscosmos space agency does not rule out lengthening it.
In Rubio’s opinion, “It is important that, when there are moments of potential tension in other areas, space flights and exploration remain a form of diplomacy and alliance between NASA and Roscosmos, where we can achieve great things together.” can find common ground”.