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Leak at the International Space Station: Saved by an extra Soyuz flight? – knowledge

a week after the discovery Leak at the International Space Station iss docked Soyuz-capsule It’s still not clear how the damage could have been done – or what will happen next. The Russian space agency Roscosmos may now need an unmanned aerial vehicle Soyuz-capsule l iss Sent to bring astronauts back to Earth.

After all, one cause for the damage can be ruled out: The annual Geminid meteor shower wasn’t from a meteor, NASA representatives said Thursday. at a press conference He said – he came from a different direction. Analysis of the video footage continues to determine if another small space object or physical failure caused the half-millimeter leak.

The leak was discovered on December 14 as Russian cosmonauts were preparing for a spacewalk to install a new solar array. Suddenly the pressure in the coolant tank dropped Soyuz– Sealing the capsule Dramatic NASA video images show the tank spraying its contents into space. The spacewalk has since been rescheduled, but the leak continues to worry NASA and Roscosmos.

Whether the capsule is suitable for a manned return trip to Earth is questionable

that SoyuzThe spacecraft easily accommodated Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin and American astronaut Frank Rubio in September. iss It has since been docked, in fact to bring the three back to Earth in March and act as a lifeboat just in case iss They must be evacuated. A leak in the tank does not necessarily render the Russian capsule unusable, but whether it is suitable for a manned return trip to Earth is questionable.

The Soyuz capsule docked with the International Space Station.

(Photo: Sergey Korsakov/The Associated Press)

If thermal analysis shows it will be too hot for the return trip, Roskosmos can start the next flight, which was previously scheduled for March. SoyuzThe ship may be brought forward to February and the spacecraft will be unmanned rather than with three astronauts on board iss Sends. Then the damaged capsule also returns unmanned.

If the docked capsule is no longer airworthy, the seven astronauts will currently remain on board iss Only until the replacement arrives Dragon crew– a capsule from SpaceX as a lifeboat, which brought three astronauts and a cosmonaut to the space station in October. But it is designed for only four people.

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