Russia may send new craft to replace leaky Soyuz capsule on space station

Russia may send new craft to replace leaky Soyuz capsule on space station


The Russian space agency is deciding whether to send a rescue spacecraft to the International Space Station to bring home two NASA cosmonauts and an astronaut after the Soyuz capsule carrying them suffered a massive leak of coolant

Working with their counterparts at NASA, officials at Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, are trying to determine whether the vehicle is strong enough to carry the crew home, said Sergei Krikalev, executive director of human spaceflight programs at Roscosmos, during an information session on Thursday. If not, the Russian agency would send another Soyuz spacecraft to be used for another manned mission to retrieve the crew.

That spacecraft could be ready to fly without people on board sometime in February, a few weeks before the crew returns in March, officials said.

The crew that would fly home in the rescue craft would include NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and a pair of cosmonauts. Sergei Prokopiev i Dmitri Petelinwhich arrived at the station in September.

Wayne Hale, former NASA flight director and manager of the SpaceShuttle program, said he could not recall any other time when NASA or Roscosmos had been forced to consider sending another spacecraft as lifeboat to recover a crew.

On December 14, as a pair of cosmonauts prepared to leave the station for a spacewalk, Roscosmos and NASA ground controllers detected a coolant leak oozing from the Soyuz capsule.

Roscosmos quickly canceled the spacewalk. And after inspecting the vehicle with the station’s robotic arm, they determined the leak was from an external cooling line used to keep the capsule at a comfortable temperature as it carries crews through the atmosphere to the void of space.

In a statement last week, NASA said that “none of the crew members aboard the station were in danger and all conducted normal operations throughout the day.” He added that “the images and data are being analyzed by Roscosmos. The agency is also closely monitoring the temperatures of the Soyuz spacecraft, which remain within acceptable limits. NASA and Roscosmos continue to work together on a course of ‘action after ongoing analysis’.

None of the coolant contaminated the space station, said Joel Montalbano, NASA’s space station manager, and astronauts on the station continue to conduct science experiments, including growing tomatoes.

It is unclear what caused the leak. Montalbano said possible causes being investigated are a hardware failure on the craft or possible damage from a piece of debris or a micro meteorite.

On Wednesday, NASA canceled a spacewalk to install an improved solar array because a piece of debris was expected to come within a quarter mile of the station. Crews maneuvered the station to avoid the debris and the spacewalk was rescheduled for Thursday.

#Russia #send #craft #replace #leaky #Soyuz #capsule #space #station

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button