AFP, published on Wednesday October 05, 2022 at 6:27 p.m. A Russian cosmonaut took off on Wednesday for the International Space Station from the United States, aboard a rocket from the American company SpaceX, a mission which is particularly symbolic in full war in Ukraine.Anna Kikina, the only female Russian cosmonaut currently on active duty, is part of the Crew-5 crew, also made up of a Japanese and two Americans, including Nicole Mann, who becomes the first Native American to go to space. Liftoff took place Wednesday noon from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. This is the fifth regular mission to the Space Station (ISS) carried out by SpaceX on behalf of NASA. Two weeks ago, an American took off for the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. The long-planned astronaut exchange program has been maintained despite very high tensions between the two countries since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Ensuring the operation of the ISS has thus become one of the very few subjects of cooperation between the United States and Russia. Transporting the citizen of another nation is “an enormous responsibility”, had underlined during a conference press release at the end of September Kathy Lueders, associate administrator at NASA. Asked about the current relationship with the Russian space agency Roscomos, she said: “Operationally, we really appreciated the consistency of the relationship, even during a very difficult period on the geopolitical level.” The head of the ISS at NASA, Joel Montalbano, had also praised the “excellent support of Roscosmos” for these joint flights.- Handover -Anna Kikina, 38 years old and engineer by training , becomes the fifth Russian female professional cosmonaut to go into space. “I hope that in the near future we will have more women in the body of cosmonauts,” she told AFP in August. This is also the first space flight of American astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, but fifth for Japan’s Koichi Wakata. After a journey of about 30 hours, their spacecraft will dock at the station on Thursday, which is evolving at an altitude of about 400 km. Members of Crew-5 will join the seven people already on board (two Russians, four Americans and an Italian). A few days of handover are planned with the four members of Crew-4, before they are sent back to Earth. The crew of Crew-5 must for its leaves to spend about five months in orbit and conduct more than 200 scientific experiments, including more than 70 unpublished aboard the flying laboratory. Anna Kikina is the first Russian to fly in a Falcon 9 rocket, designed by the company of billionaire Elon Musk. The latter interfered in the debate on the war in Ukraine l Monday, asking his Twitter followers to vote on his own suggestion to settle the conflict between kyiv and Moscow. This implied in particular the abandonment of the Crimea to Russia. The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany replied, still on Twitter, to “go fuck himself”. Russian aerospace industry, in response to the invasion of Ukraine. Russia announced this summer that it wanted to leave the ISS “after 2024” in favor of the creation of its own orbital station – without however setting a date precise for a withdrawal. The director of manned flights at Roscosmos, Sergei Krikaliov, declared to him on Monday “hope” that the Russian government agrees to extend participation in the ISS after 2024. The Americans have already said they want to continue to operate the station until 2030. In the current state of things, the ISS cannot function without one of the two segments of which it is composed, one American, the other Russian. The latter notably ensures maintenance in orbit thanks to a propulsion system. Between 2011 and SpaceX’s first flight to the ISS in 2020, Russia was the only one able to transport astronauts there, and charged NASA for places aboard his rockets. The loss of this monopoly represents a significant shortfall for the Russian space program. The exchange of astronauts this year, which must be renewed in the future, is done without financial compensation.