Rogozin’s order banning Russian astronauts from using European robot arm cancelled

A planned spacewalk tomorrow to configure the new European robot arm on the Russian section of ISS essentally proves that the order by the recently fired head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, forbidding the station’s Russian astronauts from doing any work with that European robot arm has now been cancelled.

A Russian cosmonaut and an Italian astronaut are finalizing preparations for a spacewalk on Thursday to configure the International Space Station’s third and newest robotic arm. As the pair was being assisted by two cosmonauts the rest of the Expedition 67 crew ensured ongoing advanced space research was proceeding full speed ahead aboard the orbiting lab.

Station Commander Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) are scheduled to exit the space station into the vacuum of space at 10 a.m. EDT on Thursday. The spacewalkers will spend about seven hours readying the European robotic arm for operations on the station’s Russian segment. The duo will also deploy 10 nanosatellites to collect radio electronics data. [emphasis mine]

Though I suspect no official announcement will be made, it is likely that the new head of Roscosmos, Yuri Borisov, had quietly made it clear to all involved to proceed with the necessary work, as if Rogozin’s order had never been made.

NASA and Roscosmos finalize barter deal for flying astronauts to ISS

As expected, mere hours after the firing of Dmitry Rogozin as head of Roscosmos, the Russians finally signed a barter deal with NASA for flying astronauts on each other’s spacecraft.

U.S. astronaut Frank Rubio will launch to the space station from Kazakhstan with two Russians in September. That same month, Russian cosmonaut, Anna Kikina, will join two Americans and one Japanese aboard a SpaceX rocket flying from Florida. Another crew swap will occur next spring.

No money will exchange hands under the agreement, according to NASA.

It appears that the firing of Rogozin by Putin signals larger strategic goals. Putin wants to defuse the tensions between the west and Russia, and this barter deal indicates Rogozin’s firing has achieved that aim, at least in space. Whether Roscosmos’s new head, Yuri Borisov, can regain Russia’s international commercial rocket customers is more questionable. Roscosmos under Rogozin proved to be a very unreliable partner. Regaining trust so that westerners will be willing to buy its services again could take decades.