Russia plans to send rescue vessel

ISS

Russia plans to send rescue vessel

Russia on Thursday (December 22) evaluated the airworthiness of its spacecraft docked to the International Space Station (ISS) after an impressive leak that occurred last week, and considered a rescue mission for stranded crew members.

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Still from NASA video showing a leak on the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the ISS on December 15.
Photo: AFP/VNA/CVN

The leak of coolant from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft into space began on December 14. In images released by NASA, we could clearly see a jet of particles escaping from the rear of the vehicle.

The damage is being assessed, Sergei Krikaliov, the director of manned flights at the Russian space agency Roscosmos, said during a press briefing organized by the US space agency on Thursday, December 22.

If a thermal analysis – which assesses the temperature inside the cabin – concludes that the MS-22 spacecraft is unsuitable for carrying a crew, the launch of a second Soyuz capsule, scheduled for mid-March, from the cosmodrome Baikonur, Russia’s launch base in Kazakhstan, could be advanced and the capsule would dock with the ISS without a crew, he said.

They plan to send the next Soyuz vehicle at the end of February”, added NASA ISS Commander Joel Montalbano, who was also on the call. If that happened, the damaged spacecraft would return to Earth without a crew. In September, the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft brought the two Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitri Peteline, as well as the American astronaut Frank Rubio.

There are currently seven people aboard the ISS, but if the MS-22 spacecraft were deemed unfit, it would also mean the space station would have a single rescue vehicle that can only carry four people, just in case it had to be evacuated . Russian Anna Kikina, Americans Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada and Japanese Koichi Wakata arrived aboard a Dragon capsule from the American company SpaceX in October.

Further work is still needed to determine whether the problem was caused by small, naturally occurring meteorites, man-made debris in orbit or hardware failure, he added.

AFP/VNA/CVN

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