NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos are finalizing a deal to launch the first cosmonaut aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. This great first will be done within the framework of the Crew-5 mission, the launch of which is scheduled in a few months.
A great first
During a press conference held in Dubai on October 25, Dimitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, announced that he planned to fly cosmonauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to the ISS. So far, the timing was still unclear. A few days ago, Joel Montalbano, NASA’s International Space Station (ISS) program manager, finally said that the plan was to launch a cosmonaut aboard the Crew-5 mission scheduled for the fall of 2022, “and then launch a NASA astronaut on an upcoming Soyuz mission”. “The agency is currently finalizing these plans through government agreements,” he added.
According to Roscosmos, the cosmonaut selected is Anna Kikina, the only active woman in the Russian cosmonaut corps. She has reportedly already started training at SpaceX’s facilities. As a member of the Crew-5 mission, Kikina will join Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, NASA astronauts who were initially assigned to the first crewed mission of the Starliner capsule (Boeing), and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.
Who is Anna Kikina?
Born on August 27, 1984, Anna Kikina graduated in 2006 from the Novosibirsk State Academy of Water Transport with a degree in engineering “Protection in emergency situations”. Two years later, this enthusiast of running, rafting, skydiving, reading and cinema wins another degree at the same university, this time as an economist-manager. A few years later, she made a career change. Kikina becomes a host on Radio Siberia. There she learned in 2012 about the opening of a general competition for the post of test cosmonaut.
“It was like a thunderclap. I was living my life, and then a colleague from the radio announced that the recruitment to join the cosmonaut detachment was open,” she recalls. “I took this news as a joke and joked: “That’s it, we’ll take off soon. And when I found out that it was true, I caught myself thinking that I really wanted to be an astronaut”.
The selection will have lasted about a year. Of the eight winners of the contest, Anna is the only woman. She enlisted for the position of test cosmonaut in 2014 and since then she has been preparing. His work will finally be rewarded next year. Recall that the last Russian woman to have traveled to space was Elena Serova (167 days on board the ISS from September 2014 to March 2015). By then, she had become the fourth woman in space in the country’s history.