Russia’s first manned space launch of 2022 will take place today at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The launch’s three cosmonauts will stay on the International Space Station (ISS) for 6 ½ months, where they will study the effects of zero-gravity on cervical spine and muscle adaptation, ocular rigidity and sleep.
In February, Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Russia’s space agency Roscosmos, tweeted that international sanctions owing to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatened Russian cooperation in maintaining the ISS. Earlier this month, Roscosmos halted service and deliveries of rocket engines to the U.S. and suspended Soyuz launches from the European Space Agency’s spaceport in French Guiana. In response, America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Bill Nelson pledged continued cooperation with Russia on operating the ISS.
Expect Russia and the West to continue cooperating on the ISS unless sanctions are directly placed on Roscosmos or its personnel. If sanctions are not lifted in the coming months, expect fewer Russian launches as Western space companies stop using Soyuz for satellite launches. Russia’s decoupling from Western space programs and private launching companies will likely cause delays in previously scheduled missions and shorten the lifespan of the ISS.
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Kyle is a Publisher and Analyst on the Analysis team. He specializes in foreign policy and human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a particular focus on Mexico and Central America.