(CTN NEWS) – Following their first capsule’s collision with a micrometeoroid and subsequent leak last month, Russia announced on Wednesday that it would fly a second Soyuz spacecraft next month to return two cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut from the International Space Station.
The Soyuz MS-22 capsule, one of two return capsules connected to the ISS that can transport crew members home, has an external cooling system leak less than 1 millimeter wide.
In place of the damaged Soyuz MS-22, which will be returned to Earth empty, Russia announced that a replacement spacecraft, the Soyuz MS-23, would be launched on February 20.
The MS-22 must be landed without a crew on board, according to the analysis of the state, temperature calculations, and technical paperwork, according to Roscosmos chief Yuri Borisov.
Originally scheduled to complete their mission in March, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin as well as American astronaut Francisco Rubio will now extend it by a few more months and return onboard the MS-23.
At a press briefing, NASA’s ISS program manager Joel Montalbano stated, “They are ready to launch with whatever option we give them. He continued, “I might have to fly some more ice cream to treat them.
The MS-23, scheduled to board three new crew members in March, will launch an unmanned rescue mission next month from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome.
In the event of an emergency, Roscosmos stated it would investigate if the crew could be rescued using the MS-22 spacecraft. In this circumstance, the capsule’s temperature can rise to unhealthful levels of 30 to 40 degrees Celsius (86-104 degrees Fahrenheit).
According to Sergei Krikalev, head of Russia’s crewed space programs, “in case of an emergency, when the crew will face a real threat to life on the station, then possibly the danger of staying on the station can be worse than going down in an unhealthy Soyuz.”
Russian cosmonauts had to cancel spacewalks due to the disaster, which has caused officials to concentrate on the leaky capsule that serves as the crew’s lifeboat.
For NASA, the leak is also a problem.
In case Russia could not launch another Soyuz, the U.S. agency announced last month that it was investigating whether SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft could provide an alternative trip home for certain ISS crew members.
Both NASA and Roscosmos concur that a micrometeoroid, or tiny piece of space rock, striking the capsule at high speed, was the source of the leak.
“Space is not a secure environment or location. We have tremendous temperatures, a vacuum, meteorites, and intricate hardware that is susceptible to failure, “explained Krikalev.
“Now that we are confronting one of the eventualities, we are ready for it.”
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