Three residents of the International Space Station face an uncertain future after ain the last month, which left the space art in question. The investigation is still ongoing, but NASA is considering ways to get the affected crew home. Space can play a role.
NASA said in a statement last week that it “reached out to SpaceX about its ability to return additional Dragon spacecraft if needed in an emergency, although its primary focus is on understanding the capabilities of the post-leaks MS-22 Soyuz spacecraft.” SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment. he answers.
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin rode Soyuz MS-22 to the station last year and approached Earth in March. NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos are reviewing the cause of the leak, which may have been from a small meteorite, and assessing how to proceed.
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SpaceX has launched a string of successful Crew Dragon missions to the ISS, as it is believed to send it into space equipped to bring three crew members home. However, SpaceX is customizing its Dragon Riders, so it’s not as simple as sending the spacecraft up. Any SpaceX-based launch may also have a major impact on other scheduled ISS missions, such as the upcoming SpaceX Crew-6 mission scheduled for an early 2023 takeoff.
Other possible ways forward may involve using the MS-22 as a base if it’s deemed safe, or Russia could potentially send a replacement to Soyuz space.
“NASA and Roscosmos continue to conduct various engineering reviews and consult with other international partners on methods to safely bring the Soyuz crew home for both normal and emergency missions,” NASA said. The agencies are expected to make a decision on the dilemma sometime this month.
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