A rescue plan took shape to bring home the two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut stranded on the International Space Station (ISS).
Last month, a Russian Soyuz MS-22 crew capsule docked with the ISS caused a massive leak. The material was coolant, and with so much loss in space, NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency had to determine if the trio that flew MS-22 into space could safely return to space. Earth in March, at the end of their mission. But they found the vehicle was unsafe for a crew to return home as the thermal protection system was now compromised.
Roscosmos will launch an empty Soyuz MS-23 in February to pick up NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin. “The Soyuz MS-22 will be replaced by the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft which will launch to the uncrewed space station on Monday, February 20,” NASA press officials wrote on the Space agency blog on Wednesday. Station.
“We are going to return Soyuz [MS-22] unmanned … we are sending a new Soyuz with empty seats to be able to rescue the crew and bring them back to a nominal situation,” Sergei Krikalev, executive director of human spaceflight programs at Roscosmos, told reporters during a teleconference. joint with NASA on Wednesday. .
The trio will not embark next month when the spacecraft arrives. They are now ready to spend additional months on the ISS as part of the recovery plan.
Soyuz leak: what you need to know
The Dec. 14, 2022, leak looked like a “visible stream of flakes,” said NASA communications manager Rob Navias. describes the view during a live broadcast. The coolant leak happened less than two hours before a scheduled spacewalk, so NASA captured the footage as part of their typical coverage of extravehicular activity. The dramatic scene immediately raised the question of whether the Expedition 68 trio who boarded the MS-22 would face a hurdle getting home when their mission was originally scheduled to end in March 2023. The crew pods perform both outward and return. trips. The three astronauts traveled to low Earth orbit on September 21 aboard the now damaged MS-22 capsule.
“Crew members aboard the space station are safe and were not in danger during the escape,” NASA’s space station blog previously said. “The space station is in good condition and the Expedition 68 crew is safe,” NASA’s space station Twitter account also said. tweeted the day of the escape.
“Ground crews in Moscow are assessing the nature of fluid and potential impacts to the integrity of the Soyuz spacecraft, which carried Prokopyev, Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio to space after launching from the Cosmodrome of Baikonur in Kazakhstan on September 21,” NASA shared the day of the leak in a blog post.
“The cosmonauts did not exit the space station and no crew members were exposed to the leaking coolant,” NASA wrote in another update.
In a later post, NASA officials shared that the suspected leak source was “the Soyuz’s external radiator cooling loop.” This turned out to be the case.
According to a report by the Russian state news agency TASS, their preliminary assessment shows that the leak originated from damage to the “external casing of the instrumentation and equipment compartment of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft”.
On January 11, NASA and Roscosmos officials announced that the likely culprit was a micrometeoroid strike. Krikalev told reporters the problem was not a manufacturing defect.
Following the December 14 leak, former NASA astronauts took to Twitter to voice their concerns. Twins Study Former American Astronaut Scott Kelly called flight a “serious situation”. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield shared his thoughts via the social media platform as well, also describing her nature as “serious” and adding, “Not good, lots of quick decision making going on.”
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