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Wed, 03/10/2021 - 09:35
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NASA astronaut to fly to ISS in April instead of Russian cosmonaut

MOSCOW, March 10. /TASS/. Russian cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov has been pulled out of the main crew of the manned Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft and will be replaced by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, Russian state space corporation Roscosmos said in a statement on Wednesday. "The interdepartmental commission for selecting cosmonauts and assigning them to the crews of manned spacecraft and stations <...> made a decision to withdraw Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergey Korsakov from the main crew of the ISS-65 long-term expedition. Instead of him, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei was included in the main crew as flight engineer-2," the statement said. In the back-up crew, cosmonaut Dmitry Petelin will be replaced by NASA astronaut Anne McClain. According to the state corporation, this decision was made in line with the current commitments under an agreement with the Axiom Space company on carrying out a space flight of a professional US astronaut onboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft. "The crew was changed upon the persistent demands of the US side. NASA voiced its wishes only in late 2020, and therefore the Russian side had to change the already agreed flights program," the statement said. Roscosmos stressed that it had made this decision in order to confirm "commitment to joint agreements and the spirit of joint use of the ISS." In late February, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin announced that this year’s first manned launch to the International Space Station would be conducted on April 9. According to Rogozin, the Soyuz MS-18 crew would be international. NASA said earlier that it was looking at applying for an extra seat for a US astronaut onboard this spacecraft. Roscosmos said back then that it was waiting for particular proposals on that matter. Read more