Tests are being conducted to determine whether the Soyuz MS-22 capsule is unfit for flight after the crew has cooled down.
Russia’s space agency is considering a “liberal” plan to bring back three crew members ahead of the shuttle from the International Space Station (ISS) after the Soyuz capsule suffered a coolant leak.
Roscosmos and NASA officials said at a news conference Thursday that they are continuing to investigate how the coolant line of the outer capsule’s radiator sustained a tiny puncture last week, as two cosmonauts were preparing for a spacewalk exercise.
No definitive definition has been made of the precise means by which the three Russian crew members will return to Earth – whether by launching another empty Soyuz to receive them or, it seems less likely, by sending them home in a space capsule without most of it. cooling
Sergei Krikalev, who leads the human space program at Russia’s Roscosmos, told reporters that the damage was being assessed.
LIVE: Listen as we discuss the ongoing investigation into the external leak that occurred on Dec. 14. a Soyuz spaceship landed at @Space station. https://t.co/nLniKx5igz
— NASA (@NASA) December 22, 2022
If the thermal analysis, which estimates how hot it will get inside the chamber, concludes that the Soyuz MS-22 capsule is unfit for crewed flight, then in mid-March the scheduled launch of the alien Soyuz capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome could be launched and moved. He said that he would send the box to Iss without a crew.
“We’re looking at late February to launch the next Soyuz vehicle,” added Joel Montalbano, NASA’s ISS program manager, who was also on the call.
If this were so, the damaged spaceship would return to Earth without a crew.
Krikalev said last week that the leak could have been caused by a micro-meteoroid strike. But he and his NASA counterparts have opened up the possibility of other reasons, such as hardware failure or impact by small space debris.
The ISS said on Wednesday that it had conducted a Debris Flight Maneuver – one of only three such operations this year. The first two were in June and October.
At 8:42am ET, the space station conducted a Predestined Debris Flight Maneuver to provide an extra measure of distance from the predicted debris track, which resulted in a delay in the space walk. @NASA_Astronauts. https://t.co/sRDeALLf69
– International Space Station (@Space_Station) December 21, 2022
A December 14 leak of the Moscow space mission controller recalled the scene as NASA’s web site revealed what appeared to be a flurry of snow-like particles ejected from the back of the Soyuz spacecraft.
The leak lasted for hours and emptied the cooling radiator to control the temperature inside the ship’s cabin.
NASA said no ISS crew was ever in any danger from the leak.
The capsule of the Russian crew in the air-flow compartment is now allowed to rage through the opening to the ISS. NASA previously said the capsule’s temperatures would remain “within acceptable limits,” but Krikalev added that temperatures would rise rapidly if Fox’s ISS were shut down.
The ISS is a science laboratory the length of a football field, orbiting about 400km (250 miles) above Earth, science work has continued for 20 years.
The station is managed by a US-Russian-led partnership that also includes Canada, Japan and 11 European countries. The rare strength of cooperation between Moscow and Washington has remained since the beginning of Russia’s war in Ukraine and after Western sanctions on Russia.
Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dimitry Petelin – who were suited for a spacewalk at the time the leak was detected – flew to the ISS aboard the now closed MS-22 capsule with US astronaut Frank Rubio in September.
Four other ISS crew members – two from NASA, a third Russian and a Japanese cosmonaut – boarded the ISS in October via NASA’s SpaceX Crew Dragon contract. They also remain on board, with their capsule attached to the ISS.
A Russian leak of ISS procedures weeks ago forced the suspension of all future Roscosmos spacewalks as Moscow officials shifted their focus to the leaky MS-22.
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