Image copyrightNASA / Roscosmos CaptionDestination ISS: The Soyuz capsule will leave Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for space station on Monday…
NASA / Roscosmos
Soyuz starting number 1
38 should be as routine as it is for spacecraft. The next crew is due to lift on Monday’s way to the International Space Station (ISS) from the same launcher Yury Gagarin, which was used in 1967 on its historic first in-orbit flight.
Two months ago, an accident on the last Soyuz launch sent the Russian and American astronauts to the ground.
Shortly before, the crew of ISS had discovered a mysterious hole – after the air pressure at the station began to release and successfully connected.
Both incidents have raised questions about Russia’s space industry – once the Superpower’s high pride – and the future of cosmic cooperation with the United States.
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Mediaskrift Booster error was revealed about 90 seconds in October flight  Investigators have been blamed for the failed launch on an incorrect Soyuz sensor.
The head of Roscosmos, the Russian space organization, told the BBC that it was damaged when assembled when “two cranes collided”. “Our task is to take action to ensure that it does not happen again,” said Dmitry Rogozin.
He and his Nasa counterparts say they are convinced of the upcoming mission.
Some here warn that Russia’s problems are going deeper.
“[The failed launch] is a terrible blow to Russia’s space industry and to the authorities,” explains space expert Pavel Luzin.
“Two short-term emergencies mean something goes wrong.”
Astronauts fly malfunctional rocket
Luzin says Moscow ranks its space program next to its nuclear arena and is sitting in the UN Security Council as things giving Vladimir Putin’s Russia the “great power” status it longs for.
But the accident, and the inexplicable gap on the ISS, included reports of low wages and minimal motivation in the country’s space sector, which is still fully financed and funded.
“There is a big gap between managers’ wages and general engineers, which does not help to ensure conscientious work,” points out Ivan Moiseyev, head of the Space Policy Institute in Moscow.
The Roscosmos boss called it an “open question” about the damage to Soyuz during the assembly was a tampering act.
“It probably was not,” said Rogozin. “But we have to check.”
He raised similar questions about the two millimeter wide hole found on the ISS, which Russia stopped drilling by a “shaking hand”.
In a sign of the tense political climate space chief argued that “deliberate involvement in space” could not be ruled out.
A newspaper reported that Roscosmos actually blamed the American astronauts on the ISS to make the hole behind closed doors.
Publicly, both sides have been positive.
“We fully trust each other. This is the only way we can send our guys and gals in circulation,” told Roscomo’s BBC director at an event marking 20 years of ISS.
“Thank you, the political winds do not touch us,” added Dmitry Rogozin.
“The outer environment that I do not believe can understand … that there is confidence in this ocean of other sounds,” Nasa’s William Gerstenmaier echoed him.
Skepsis is certainly strong here.
Relations between the US and Russia heavily strained by accusations of elections and the crisis in Ukraine, industry observers say that the professions of friendship and trust are largely “polite diplomacy”.
Space Station is a powerful and increasingly rare symbol of cooperation. But it is set to end the business in 2024.
“Politics does not affect work on ISS, but future projects are highly unlikely on the same scale,” Ivan Moiseyev believes.
A role for Russia on Nasas Lunar Gateway is still under discussion: Moscow is not happy to take a bit in the US led project to run the moon.
“For researchers, it’s best to keep ISS going on for as long as possible, but it’s the politicians who give the money and they are having the problems,” said Moiseyev.
Russia still speaks as a space magazine.
Dmitry Rogozin insists on his heavy rocket Angara will start, even though the date has now slipped to 2028; with that, Russia has great plans to colonize the moon.
One thing that Moscow can boast with: Soyuz spacecraft is currently the only way to start crew in circulation, because the US ended its Shuttle 2011 program.
“We are convinced of this vehicle, they quickly calculated what happened and why and how to prevent it again,” told Nasas Anne McClain of a journalist. She then climbed into a Soyuz simulator for a final skill test before her virgin flight.
However, as ISS, cooperation with Moscow is appropriate.
Nasa expects crew test flights of the two US commercial spacecraft under development next year.
“Why should Americans and Europeans need to cooperate with Russia then?” Pavel Luzin asks.
“They do not want to depend on Russia. It is the political challenge for us.”