Leak inspection finds hole in Russian spacecraft docked to ISS

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the Russian Rassvet ISS module, in a photo taken on October 8, 2022.

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the Russian Rassvet ISS module, in a photo taken on October 8, 2022.
Photo: POT

An inspection revealed a 0.8-millimeter-wide hole in the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft that caused a coolant leak outside the International Space Station last week. russian space agency Roscosmos will make a decision on the flight capability of the spacecraft later this month, at which time Russia may choose to speed up the launch of a replacement capsule.

The hole is located in the instrumentation compartment of the ship in the Soyuz service module, according to Head of Roscosmos Yury Borisov and how reported by the state news agency TASS. “The Soyuz’s main guidance, navigation, control and computing systems are in the instrumentation compartment, which is a sealed container filled with circulating nitrogen gas to cool avionics equipment,” NASA said. He says.

The Soyuz MS-22 leaked on December 15, sending jets of coolant into space and cancel a Russian spacewalk. Both NASA and Roscosmos have stated that the incident does not pose any risk to the crew or the orbiting space station. A preliminary inspection with a robotic arm confirmed the leak shortly after it began on Thursday, with a follow-up inspection earlier today now confirming the hole, which may have been caused by a micrometeorite or a small piece of space junk.

Today’s inspection “revealed that there is a small hole” in the instrumentation compartment “measuring about 0.8mm, which caused the leak,” Borisov said on Monday., describing the current situation as “not very pleasant”. The Russian space agency has set a December 27 deadline to determine the status and fate of the damaged Soyuz spacecraft. Two working groups will decide if the spacecraft can carry passengers and return to the surface or if it should be scrapped.

The MS-22 capsule is scheduled to return NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin to Earth inorth early spring, but the trio may have lost their ride. A SpaceX Crew Dragon is also parked outside the ISS, but it is reserved for NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos. The Crew Dragon cannot accommodate seven people, but there is an option for the Russian space agency to speed up its next Soyuz launch to the ISS, the MS-23 mission.

“Of course, we have backup options”, Borisov saying the state media Izvestia. “We will prepare the spaceship faster. Instead of the descent scheduled for March, we will prepare it somewhere for February 19. It is already installed at the Baikonur spaceport and is undergoing all the tests, ”he said. To which he added: “In this situation, we will simply undock the Soyuz MS-22, it will descend to Earth and we will send a second [uncrewed] spaceship to bring back the crew.

It’s not yet clear if MS-22 is ready, but there are reasons for concern. As the Associated Press reportsthe temperature inside the crew section of the capsule rose to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) as a result of the leak, while the temperature in the crew section temporarily rose to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) before ground crews to shut down some of the spacecraft systems.

The crew used fans to blow cooler air inside the Soyuz capsule in an attempt to lower the cabin temperature, Roscosmos said, adding that “the temperature rise in the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft is allowable and not critical. for the operation of the ship. equipment or the health of the crew in case they need to be on the spacecraft.” Borisov dismissed speculation that the Soyuz cabin temperature rose to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius), according to TASS.

According to NASA, Roscosmos flight controllers conducted a Successful test of the Soyuz MS-22 boosters on Friday, so there is at least some positive news. Additionally, NASA is moving forward with a planned spacewalk to continue the International Space Station Deployable Solar Array (iROSA) installation, which was supposed to happen today but will instead take place on Wednesday, December 21.

Plus: The best spaceflight images of 2022

Leave a Reply

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