Washington - The United States said Friday it would resume flights to the International Space Station with Russia, despite its attempts to isolate Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine. “To ensure continued safe operations of the International Space Station, protect the lives of astronauts and ensure continuous US presence in space, NASA will resume integrated crews on US crew spacecraft and the Russian Soyuz,” US space agency NASA said in a statement. NASA said that astronaut Frank Rubio would fly with two Russian cosmonauts on a Soyuz rocket scheduled to launch on September 21 from Kazakhstan, with another astronaut, Loral O’Hara, taking another mission in early 2023. In a first, Russian cosmonauts will join NASA astronauts on SpaceX’s new Crew-5 which will launch in September from Florida with a Japanese astronaut also on the mission. Another joint mission on the SpaceX Crew-6 will fly out in early 2023, NASA said. The move comes despite the European Space Agency earlier this week terminating its relationship with Russia on a mission to put a rover on Mars, infuriating Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin who banned cosmonauts on the ISS from using a European-made robotic arm. But hours before NASA’s announcement, President Vladimir Putin dismissed Rogozin, a firebrand nationalist and ardent backer of the Ukraine invasion who once quipped that US astronauts should get to the space station on trampolines rather than Russian rockets. NASA said that the International Space Station was always designed to be operated jointly with participation from the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. “The station was designed to be interdependent and relies on contributions from each space agency to function.

No one agency has the capability to function independent of the others,” it said.