NASA Hitches a Ride on a Russian Craft, and Begins a New Dependent Phase
A Russian Soyuz rocket with three astronauts — two Russians, one American — is set to lift off from Kazakhstan on Monday morning, ferrying the men to the International Space Station.
Ordinarily, the launching of a Soyuz, Russia’s workhorse rocket for decades, is a mundane event. But this time the future of the space station — and, indeed, the space programs of Russia and the United States — may be riding on the mission’s success. There are now three crew members living on the space station, and they are scheduled to return to Earth this month; if the three relief astronauts do not arrive before then, the space station will be empty for the first time in more than a decade.
The flight is also the beginning of a new chapter for NASA, which ended its space shuttle program in July and is now turning to foreign governments and commercial enterprises for space transportation. Monday’s launching will be the first trip by astronauts to orbit since the retirement of the shuttles……
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