Examination of the leak revealed a hole in a Russian spacecraft docked at the International Space Station

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked at Russia's Rassvet ISS module, in this photo taken Oct. 8, 2022.

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked at Russia’s Rassvet ISS module, in this photo taken Oct. 8, 2022.
picture: NASA

An inspection revealed a 0.8-millimeter-wide hole in the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft that led to a coolant leak outside the International Space Station last week. Russian Space Agency Roscosmos will make a file Decision on the airworthiness of the spacecraft Later this month, at which time Russia may choose to expedite the launch of a replacement capsule.

The hatch is located in the ship’s instrument compartment of the Soyuz service module, according to Roskosmos President Yuri Borisov And as mentioned State news agency TASS. “The Soyuz’s basic guidance, navigation, control and computer systems are located in the instrument bay, which is a sealed container filled with circulating nitrogen gas to cool avionics equipment,” NASA says. He says.

Soyuz MS-22 leaked on December 15, Sending coolant streams into space And the abolition of Russian spacewalks. Both NASA and Roscosmos have stated that the accident poses no danger to the crew or the orbiting space station. An initial check using the mechanism arm confirmed the leak shortly after it began on Thursday, with a follow-up check carried out earlier today, now confirming the hole, which may have been Because of a small meteorite or a small piece of space junk.

Borisov said Monday that today’s inspection “revealed a small hole” in the instrument compartment “about 0.8 millimeters in size, which caused a leak.”, describing the current situation as “not very pleasant”. Developed by the Russian Space Agency Deadline December 27 To determine the condition and fate of the damaged Soyuz spacecraft. Two working groups will decide whether the spacecraft can host passengers and return to the surface or if it needs to dispose of waste.

The MS-22 capsule is scheduled to return NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin to Earth.n Early spring, but the trio may have been lost ride. A SpaceX Crew Dragon is also parked outside the International Space Station, but that’s for NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Kasada, and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos. Crew Dragon can’t hold seven people, but the option exists for the Russian Space Agency to expedite its upcoming launch from Soyuz to the International Space Station, MS-23 mission.

Borisov, “Of course, we have backup options” Tell State-run media outlet Izvestia. “We will prepare the spaceship faster. Instead of the scheduled landing in March, we will prepare it somewhere by February 19. It is already installed at the Baikonur cosmodrome and is undergoing all tests. To which he added: “In this case, we will simply undock Soyuz MS-22, it will descend to Earth and we will send a second [uncrewed] spaceship to bring back the crew.”

It is not yet clear if MS-22 is toast, but there are some reasons for concern. As Associated Press reportsThe temperature inside the capsule crew section rose to 86 °F (30 °C) as a result of the leak, while the temperature in the equipment section temporarily rose to 104 °F (40 °C) before the ground teams shut each other down. of spacecraft systems.

Roscosmos said the crew used fans to blow cool air into the Soyuz capsule in an effort to lower the cabin temperature, adding that “the temperature increase on the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft is acceptable and not critical to the operation of the equipment or the health of the crew in case they need to be in Starship “. Borisov dismissed speculation that the Soyuz cabin temperature had risen to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius), according to TASS.

According to NASA, flight controllers at Roscosmos conducted a successful test From the Soyuz MS-22 thrusters on Friday, so there is at least some positive news. In addition, NASA is moving forward with a planned spacewalk to continue the installation of the International Space Station Solar Array (iROSA), which was supposed to happen today but will take place on Wednesday, December 21st.

more: The best spaceflight photos of 2022

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