Russian cosmonauts will conduct the first spacewalk of the year today to integrate the Prichal nodal module into the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS), which docked two months ago.
The spacewalk will last over six hours. Two cosmonauts will attach the Prichal to the MLM Nauka module, providing additional docking ports to the station’s Russian segment. This is the first of eight spacewalks that Russia is expected to carry out between January and May.
Relations are strained between Russia and the US, the two main partners on the station. While the space partnership has historically persisted despite geopolitical tensions, it is beginning to weaken, especially as Russia and China are establishing space cooperation. Regardless, NASA astronauts and Roscosmos cosmonauts appear eager to continue working together.
Tensions may muddle the US Congress’ plans to extend the life of the space station to 2030. Politically, it appears infeasible that NASA will be able to keep the ISS going, given increasing strains between the US and Russia over the last several years. Nonetheless, expect NASA to make efforts to maintain its relationship with Russia, as the two nations plan to finalize the Crew Dragon deal this year.
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Madeline McQuillan is an Analyst for Foreign Brief and a contributor to the Daily Brief. Her expertise is in European politics and transatlantic relations. She holds a Master of Science in European and International Public Policy from the London School of Economics.