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Soyuz MS-17 returns from the International Space Station

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Soyuz MS-17 returns from the International Space Station

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Photo: spacelaunchnow.me

The Soyuz MS-17, a Russian spacecraft, will land at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan today following a months-long mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Initially intended for an all-Russian crew, MS-17’s lineup was changed to include one American astronaut following discussions between NASA and Roscosmos (Russia’s national space agency). Russia and the US often collaborate in space exploration and the US has been reliant on Soyuz flights for its astronauts since 2011. However, US government partnerships with private companies including SpaceX and forthcoming Sino-Russian research projects threaten deeper cooperation long-term.

In the near-term, expect Roscosmos and NASA to continue cooperating in sending mixed-nationality crews to the ISS. Russia receives approximately $90 million per seat from US purchases of room aboard its spacecraft, and the Biden administration likely intends to preserve a long-running partnership amidst diplomatic tension. As contracts governing ISS collaboration expire, however, expect Moscow to rely on further space cooperation with countries such as China, including a planned binational lunar research institute, while the US will likely intensify partnerships with companies such as SpaceX to compensate for its worsening Russian relationship.

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