Soyuz leaks might maintain astronaut, cosmonauts on house station for a 12 months


The launch of a alternative spacecraftto retrieve a NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts from the International Space Station after their ship suffered an enormous coolant leak late final 12 months “is under review,” NASA stated in an announcement Wednesday night as engineers work to determine the reason for a leak affecting a second Russian spacecraft.

Earlier this week, after discovering the second leak on a Russian cargo ship that doesn’t fly individuals, Russian house company officers stated they had been pushing the launch of the alternative craft to March in order that to provide them extra time to research the issue.

But in its assertion Wednesday NASA didn’t put a date on when the alternative ship can be despatched to the house station and stated that it was working with engineers from Roscosmos, the Russian house company, “to investigate the cause of coolant loss from both” ships. It added that “the crew is continuing with normal space station operations and scientific research.”

The crew — NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin — launched to the International Space Station in September in what was speculated to be a six-month keep, with a return journey set for March.

Now it’s unclear when the crew will return.

The first setback got here in December, when the crew’s Russian-made Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft sprang a leak, spewing coolant used to maintain the spacecraft at a snug temperature. Last month, Roscosmos stated the leak was possible brought on by a micrometeoroid strike — not a producing defect, a conclusion that NASA stated it supported. Given the injury, Roscosmos determined it might be unsafe for the astronauts to fly residence in that ship, as initially deliberate. Instead, it stated it might ship up a contemporary spacecraft as a alternative.

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That launch was speculated to occur Feb. 19. But then on Saturday, Russian engineers on the mission management heart outdoors of Moscow found that one other spacecraft — this one a cargo ship known as Progress 82 — additionally had a coolant leak.

Now that two spacecraft have had comparable issues inside months of one another, NASA officers and their Russian counterparts are confronting new questions on what prompted the leaks, if they’re associated and whether or not the alternative ship may additionally have an identical drawback.

The Progress cargo spacecraft has been connected to the house station since October. Since the leak was found, NASA stated it “has been assisting Roscosmos in collecting imagery” utilizing the house station’s robotic arm.

Normally, crews rotate out after six-month stays on the house station, and Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin had been to return when a alternative crew flying the subsequent spacecraft, Soyuz MS-23, would relieve them. Since Roscosmos is now sending that spacecraft as a rescue automobile, the alternative crew gained’t fly till September. And so Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin can be prolonged till the brand new crew arrives.

Speaking to reporters final month, Joel Montalbano, NASA’s house station program supervisor, stated that the crew is “prepared to stay until the September launch date, if that’s the case. If that launch day moves up earlier, then they’re prepared to come home earlier.”

Officials have stated that the launch of the subsequent crew can be decided as soon as the alternative craft is launched and connected to the station. NASA and Roscosmos are desirous to get the alternative ship to the station as a result of it might be used as an evacuation automobile within the unlikely probability of an emergency aboard the station.

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