The Russian space agency Roscosmos will launch a new unmanned Soyuz MS-23 shuttle on February 20 to bring astronauts back to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) after a liquid leak from the docked Russian shuttle
Moscow will launch a new Soyuz shuttle to bring astronauts home aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
After the discovery, last December 14, of a coolant leak on the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked at the orbiting base, the Russian space agency Roscosmos did he know which – after careful analysis – will launch another Soyuz spacecraft next month to bring home two cosmonauts and a US astronaut.
The Soyuz M-22 with which they were supposed to return was damaged. The crash had disrupted operations on Russia’s ISS, forcing its cosmonauts to suspend spacewalks while officials focused on the damage. The shuttle will then return to Earth unmanned, to be on the safe side.
So the Soyuz M-23 spacecraft will be the first vehicle ever launched for an in-orbit rescue operation.
The leak also posed a problem for NASA. At the end of December the US agency was considering using SpaceXthe only company that can currently carry astronauts into space from American soil, as a backup to the Soyuz mission.
All the details.
ANOTHER SOYUZ SHUTTLE TO BRING ASTRONAUTS BACK TO EARTH
The space agencies of the United States and Russia have decided to send a new spacecraft to bring back Russian astronauts Dimitri Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev and the American Frank Rubio from the International Space Station.
The Soyuz MS-23 will therefore depart empty from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on February 20, 2023 instead of March 16 as planned. In fact, the Expedition 69 crew made up of Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara, whose launch has been postponed, will not be on the shuttle.
WHAT HAPPENED TO SOYUZ MS-22
Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio arrived last September on Soyuz MS-22. Docked to the ISS, in mid-December the Russian shuttle suffered a loss of coolant. Both NASA and Roscosmos believe the leak was caused by a micrometeoroid – a small particle of space rock – hitting the capsule at high speed.
“After analyzing the condition of the spacecraft, thermal calculations and technical documentation, it was concluded that MS-22 must have landed without a crew on board,” said Yuri Borisov, head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.
Due to the lost coolant, the nacelle radiator could no longer cool the nacelle by itself. During the spacecraft’s return to Earth, temperatures inside the spacecraft could rise to more than 40 degrees Celsius with high humidity, Krikalev explained.
“Space is not a safe place and it is not a safe environment. We have meteorites, we have a vacuum and we have a high temperature, and we have complicated hardware that can fail,” said Sergei Krikalev, director of human flight at the Russian space agency Roscosmos. “Now we are facing one of the scenarios… we are prepared for this situation.”
However, NASA and Roscosmos officials said the damaged Soyuz was usable in an emergency.
NASA WILL REVIEW FOLLOWING MISSIONS
Finally, Joel Montalbano, head of NASA’s ISS program, said that the agency will review its program of upcoming missions. SpaceX’s Crew-6 Crew Dragon mission, due to start in February, could therefore be postponed, in light of the change in Russian plans.
And just a Crew Dragon spacecraft is also available as an emergency option if necessary.
SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive our newsletter
Russia will send another Soyuz to bring astronauts back from the ISS