Russia blasts off U.S. astronaut: end of an era?

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft blasted off from Kazakhstan for the International Space Station on Wednesday (October 14). But could this mission mark the end of an era? It's the last Russian flight scheduled to carry an American astronaut -- because they'll be flying on SpaceX instead. NASA microbiologist Kate Rubins in onboard with two Russian cosmonauts. In 2016, she became the first person to sequence DNA in space. On Tuesday (October 13), Rubins spoke about the special anniversary that'll take while she's on the space station. "Twenty years anniversary of continuous human presence in space is going to be quite an event and I think that all three of us look forward to be there during that time." NASA's space shuttle program ended in 2011. Since then, it's relied on Russia to ferry its astronauts to the space station. But in 2014, the U.S. space agency contracted Space X and Boeing to build competing space capsules in an effort to reclaim NASA's launch independence. The $8 billion program enabled Space X's first manned trip to the space station in May, marking the first from home soil in nearly a decade. NASA and Russia's space agency Roscosmos have committed to continue the flight-sharing partnership. They're in talks about flying Russian astronauts on U.S. vehicles, and flying U.S. astronauts on Russian rockets when needed. But, for now, this is the last time Russia will take an American astronaut into space.