One other Russian spacecraft docked to the area station is leaking


A Progress spacecraft is seen departing the space station earlier this month.
Enlarge / A Progress spacecraft is seen departing the area station earlier this month.

NASA

Russia’s state-owned area company, Roscosmos, reported Saturday {that a} Progress provide ship hooked up to the Worldwide House Station has misplaced strain in its exterior cooling system.

In its assertion, Roscosmos stated there was no menace to the seven crew members on board the orbiting laboratory. NASA, too, stated the hatch between the Progress MS-21 automobile and the area station was open. Notably, the incident with the provision ship got here inside hours of the secure docking of one other Progress ship, MS-22, which is in good well being.

Though the preliminary Roscosmos assertion was imprecise concerning the depressurization occasion, Dmitry Strugovets, a former head of area company Roscosmos’ press service, later clarified it was a coolant leak. “The entire coolant has leaked out,” he stated by way of Telegram.

That is the second Russian spacecraft to undergo a cooling system leak in lower than two months on the area station.

Déjà vu

On December 14 2022, as two cosmonauts have been getting ready to conduct a spacewalk exterior the area station, the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked close by started to leak uncontrollably from its exterior cooling loop. This method carries warmth away from the inside of the spacecraft.

This Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft had been because of deliver cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, in addition to NASA’s Frank Rubio, again to Earth in March. Russian engineers finally declared {that a} micrometeorite had struck the exterior cooling loop of the spacecraft, and deemed it unsafe to fly house.

In January, officers from Roscosmos and NASA stated a substitute Soyuz spacecraft will launch to and autonomously dock with the station in February. The crew that will have flown within the broken Soyuz MS-22 automobile, together with Rubio, will as an alternative fly house on this Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft later in 2023. The leaky Soyuz MS-22 automobile will make an autonomous return to Earth, bereft of crew, seemingly in March.

It isn’t clear how instantly the leaky Progress and Soyuz spacecraft are associated. In line with one NASA supply, nonetheless, there was some preliminary knowledge acquired from the Progress automobile that indicated an identical cooling system concern. Exterior cameras confirmed flakes transferring away from the Progress automobile—frozen coolant—much like that noticed with Soyuz MS-22.

Rising record of failures

Roscosmos stated Saturday the Progress incident “may have no influence on the longer term station program.” That is seemingly true for Progress MS-21, at the very least. The spacecraft already has been full of trash and different materials to be faraway from the station, and was because of depart subsequent week, burning up in Earth’s ambiance throughout reentry.

Nevertheless, it appears too early to make such a conclusion for future missions. A essential query is what brought on the depressurization occasion noticed Saturday. It appears inconceivable {that a} second micrometeorite would have struck as second Russian spacecraft in lower than two months. This raises doubts about whether or not the Soyuz MS-22 failure was certainly a micrometeorite concern—Russia has by no means launched photographs of the influence web site—and as an alternative maybe a producing defect.

Just a few hours after the Progress depressurization Saturday there are extra questions than solutions, however none of this may consolation NASA because it companions with Russia to proceed working the area station. This newest Soyuz and Progress failures are simply two in an extended line of current points, together with the Nauka module’s misfiring thrusters in 2021, a Soyuz booster failure in 2018 that pressured Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague to make an emergency return to Earth, or one other leaky Soyuz automobile.

These are the sorts of issues that one may anticipate from an area business in Russia that’s reliant on getting older infrastructure, getting older expertise, and high quality management points because of insufficient budgets.

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