Russia to ship Soyuz spacecraft to exchange broken one at ISS


Russia plans to ship a backup spacecraft to the Worldwide Area Station to retrieve three crew members whose Soyuz capsule was broken, probably by a micrometeoroid, Russia and NASA officers stated Wednesday.

The alternative craft, which may have no crew aboard, is to be launched Feb. 20 to choose up Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin in addition to NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who all arrived on the station in September.

On Dec. 14, because the cosmonauts had been getting ready to go away the station’s airlock to carry out a spacewalk, floor controllers seen a leak of coolant spraying uncontrollably into area. Roscosmos, the Russian area company, instantly canceled the spacewalk and decided that the leak was coming from a tiny gap in an exterior cooling line, about one millimeter huge. The coolant is used to maintain the capsule at a cushty temperature.

Since then, Roscosmos, in cooperation with NASA, had been making an attempt to find out whether or not the spacecraft was match to fly the crew residence or if the company wanted to ship up a rescue craft. The groups decided that with out the coolant, temperatures contained in the spacecraft may exceed 100 levels Fahrenheit. The excessive temperature mixed with humidity may have an effect on the spacecraft’s computing methods and likewise make the environment uncomfortable for the crew.

After the brand new spacecraft arrives on the station, Roscosmos plans to fly, with out crew members, the broken Soyuz again to Earth, the place it will likely be retrieved and inspected.

NASA and Roscosmos have stated that the crew members on the station should not at risk and that they continued to conduct analysis and science experiments, together with rising tomatoes, whereas crews on the bottom developed an answer for the issue. Seven individuals are aboard the station: the three who flew on the Soyuz craft in September and 4 who flew to the station in October on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, which is also docked on the station.

In a name with reporters Wednesday, NASA’s area station program supervisor, Joel Montalbano, sought to downplay the severity of the difficulty, saying there may be “no speedy want for the crew to come back residence in the present day.”

Talking from Moscow, the place he was concerned in conferences with Roscosmos officers, Montalbano stated NASA was not “calling it a rescue Soyuz. … I’m calling it a alternative Soyuz.”

Sergei Krikalev, government director of Roscosmos’s human spaceflight packages, stated the companies put together for this kind of state of affairs, realizing they’re extraordinarily uncommon. “This can be a situation we envision, and now we’re principally following the process,” he stated.

Krikalev stated it was “the primary time I keep in mind” having to ship a alternative spacecraft to the station. “We’ve by no means had the true want to do that” he stated.

NASA and Roscosmos are analyzing choices within the occasion of an emergency that may require the crews to evacuate the station earlier than the rescue Soyuz arrives. The Soyuz crew may nonetheless board its spacecraft and use it as a lifeboat, with out returning to Earth’s environment. It additionally is likely to be potential to suit an extra crew member within the SpaceX Dragon capsule.

The plan now would contain crews going “in your respective automobiles in the present day,” Montalbano stated. “However, in parallel, we’ve been speaking to SpaceX and an possibility of what we will do with the SpaceX car.”

He stated NASA officers concurred with Roscosmos’s view that the harm to the Soyuz car docked on the area station was in all probability attributable to a micrometeoroid. He stated there was nothing irregular “within the manufacturing of this car.” Earth’s orbit additionally has been flooded with particles from a Russian missile strike on a lifeless satellite tv for pc in 2021 that, on the time, required crews on the area station to shelter of their spacecraft.

General, Montalbano stated, NASA and Roscosmos “have labored extraordinarily effectively collectively, each the technical groups and the administration staff. It’s a true testomony to the partnership.”

With a recent Soyuz on the station, Krikalev stated, the three-member crew’s mission could be prolonged by a variety of months. It’s not clear, although, how the launch of the alternative car would have an effect on NASA’s schedule. For now, SpaceX is anticipated to fly one other crew of astronauts to the station in February. “We’ll want a pair extra weeks earlier than we’re able to outline a bunch of recent launch dates,” Montalbano stated.

Crew members on the area station had been in good spirits and persevering with to go about their enterprise, he stated. However he added: “I’ll should fly some extra ice cream as much as reward them.”

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