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NASA And Russia Discuss Options For Astronaut Return Following A Capsule Leak

After a coolant leak in their Soyuz spacecraft, the Russian space agency is exploring a "rescue" operation to bring home three crew members from the International Space Station (ISS) ahead of schedule. Following the leak of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft last week, NASA and Russia discussed options for astronaut return.

Landon Morton
Dec 28, 20223324 Shares100738 Views
After a coolant leak in their Soyuz spacecraft, the Russian space agency is exploring a "rescue" operation to bring home three crew members from the International Space Station (ISS) ahead of schedule.
Following the leak of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft last week, NASA and Russia discuss options for astronaut return. NASA and Roscosmos officials stated at a press conference on Thursday that they are still trying to figure out what caused a minor rupture to appear in the coolant line of the capsule's exterior radiator last week, just as two cosmonauts were getting ready for a normal spacewalk.
Officials have said that none of the seven persons presently aboard the ISS — three Roscosmos cosmonauts, three NASA astronauts, and one astronaut from Japan's space agency — were ever in any risk as a consequence of the leak. However, it is unclear if the spacecraft will be able to return home with its crew on board.

Leakage In The Soyuz MS-22 Spacecraft

Frank Rubio of NASA, together with Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin of the Russian Space Agency, launched on September 21 aboard the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft and docked at the International Space Station. In March, it was supposed to return them to Earth.
If Soyuz MS-22 is ruled unsafe for the crew, Roscosmos is considering flying an empty Soyuz mission to the ISS and accelerating the launch date by two to three weeks. This would allow the spacecraft to act as a rescue vehicle for Rubio, Prokopyev, and Petelin. According to Montalbano, the next Soyuz mission might launch as early as February if Roscosmos follows the proposed timeline.
As he rides the Canadarm2 robotic arm to the Starboard-4 truss section assembly location, NASA astronaut and Expedition 68 Flight Engineer Josh Cassada carries a roll-out solar array.
On December 14, astronauts noticed a leak on the Soyuz MS-22 when it was docked to one of the International Space Station's eight berthing ports. Live footage during a NASA livestream showed liquid spilling out of the spacecraft, delaying last week's spacewalk by two cosmonauts.
According to Roscosmos, the Soyuz's exterior cooling loop was the source of the leak. Since the leaking coolant "boils up extremely rapidly," as highlighted by Montalbano, no external corrosion or damage to the ISS is anticipated as a result of the leak.
It has been determined that a tiny hole was the source of the leak, but whether this hole was created by a collision with a piece of space debris, a mechanical failure, or anything else is still unclear, as stated by Montalbano.

Possbile Reasons Of Leakage

In deciding how best to bring the crew back, determining the source of the leak might be a consideration. NASA and Roscosmos are looking into three probable origins of the leak: a meteroid puncture, an impact by a piece of space debris, or a technical failure on the Soyuz spacecraft itself.
Mike Suffredini, who oversaw NASA's ISS program for a decade until 2015, expressed concern that a hardware failure may cast doubt on the reliability of future Soyuz spacecraft, like as the one that could be sent for the crew's rescue.
I can assure you that’s something they’re looking at, to see what’s back there and whether there’s a concern for it. The thing about the Russians is they’re really good at not talking about what they’re doing, but they’re very thorough.- Mike Suffredini, NASA’s ISS program
Engineers were supposed to determine by Tuesday on how to bring the crew down to Earth, as promised by Roscosmos chairman Yuri Borisov, but the agency later indicated the decision would be postponed until January.
Temperatures inside the capsule are still "below acceptable norms," according to NASA, and the crew compartment is being ventilated with air flow permitted via an open door to the ISS.
Russia's head of manned space projects, Sergei Krikalev, warned reporters last week that closing the station's hatch would cause a quick increase in temperature.
According to Jones, the primary attention of NASA and Roscosmos is on identifying the source of the leak and assessing the condition of MS-22, which is also designed to act as the crew's lifeboat in the event of an emergency on the station that necessitates evacuation.
NASA's ISS program manager Joel Montalbano told reporters last week that a space rock may have arrived from another direction, but the leak was pointing in the incorrect direction, making an impact by a micrometeoroid more likely. This was because of the recent meteor shower.
But if a piece of space junk is at blame, then this raises new issues about whether the coolant line, like other elements of the MS-22 spacecraft, should have been shielded against debris.

Micrometeoroid strike could be cause of Russian spacecraft leak | The World

Final Thought

In the event of an emergency evacuation, there are now seven people on board the ISS, but with MS-22 judged unsuitable, that number drops to just one "lifeboat" capable of transporting four people.
The International Space Station was able to perform its maneuvers as planned, and the Thursday morning US spacewalk got underway without a hitch.
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