Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos has taken technical interest in the launch of the US crewed spacecraft Crew Dragon to the International Space Station, scheduled for May 27, the company’s CEO Dmitry Rogozin said on Monday.
"We have great interest towards the technical aspects of this project [launch of the SpaceX company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft], because we are in the process of upgrading our own vehicles, creating the new spacecraft Oryol (Eagle) and laying the groundwork for building another spacecraft that would operate in low orbits, including that being used by the ISS - less than 400 kilometers away from the Earth. We are interested to see an alternative," Rogozin said on the Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station on Monday.
Roscosmos, he said, was watching preparations for this launch with great interest. Rogozin recalled that since the summer of 2011 Roscosmos had been the sole contractor capable of ferrying space crews to the ISS and back.
"True, we were making money on this, but the responsibility for ensuring a stable transport link with the ISS was colossal. No money can measure the emotional strain of the people responsible for crewed space missions. We will be very glad, if the Americans have an alternative system for delivering crews to space station," Rogozin said.
He stressed that in the space industry the price of mistakes was extremely high and all technical solutions and equipment must have a great safety margin and standby options and facilities: launchpads, rockets and spacecraft. He believes that if the United States manages to launch its crewed spacecraft on the expected date (May 27), then one of the most important tasks in world astronautics will be resolved.
"Of course, we will share this responsibility [the delivery of crews to the ISS] with the Americans. This is a natural process," Rogozin said.
"I can imagine what kind of feeling they had all these nine years, having no opportunity to deliver their astronauts to the ISS. It is a matter of honor and national pride. Let us wish them professional success," Rogozin said.
Crew Dragon spacecraft
The Crew Dragon spaceship carrying two astronauts - Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken - is to blast off from Cape Canaveral on May 27 at 16:32 East Coast time. The docking with the ISS is due on May 28. Crew Dragon is a configuration of the cargo spacecraft Dragon, which had already delivered cargoes to the ISS. A Falcon-9 rocket put the cargo vehicle in space on March 2. Its docking with the ISS was carried out automatically the next day.
NASA stopped crewed flights in 2011 after the Space Shuttle program came to an end. From that moment on all astronauts were delivered to the ISS and back by Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. Originally the Untied States was to start using commercial spacecraft for crewed missions in 2017.