NASA launches first female-led SpaceX mission to International Space Station, will include Russian astronaut

After a series of delays, NASA’s latest SpaceX mission made history Wednesday by launching American and Russian astronauts to the International Space Station with a female-led crew.

According to CNN, the four crew members — astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada of NASA, astronaut Koichi Wakata of JAXA, or Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Roscosmos — launched aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Kikina made history by becoming the first Russian to join a SpaceX mission as part of a “ride-sharing deal NASA and Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos,” inked in July, CNN reported. CNN said her participation in the flight is a sign that, despite mounting tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the decades-long US-Russia partnership in space will persist.

The mission is reportedly the sixth astronaut flight launched as a joint endeavor between NASA and SpaceX to the space station.

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