On board the capsule were 200 kilograms of cargo – but not, as planned, three astronauts who now have to stay longer on the ISS.
Russia’s Soyuz space capsule, which was damaged after a meteor impact, returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Tuesday as planned without a crew. After a perfect flight, the Soyuz MS-22 with more than 200 kilograms of cargo on board landed in the steppes of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Central Asia. The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, broadcast the maneuver live on the Internet.
Less than two hours after being unloaded from the International Space Station, the capsule touched down about 147 kilometers southeast of Cheskasgan. Although there are no astronauts and cosmonauts on board, there are scientific instruments and research findings – including a battery for a spacesuit, experiments on growing mushroom farms and producing probiotic drinks.
Because of the delicate payload, the capsule had to be brought gently to the ground. Roscosmos showed how a parachute was initially opened under clear skies to slow down the capsule’s fall. Immediately before hitting the ground, the speed control motors started. Upon impact, a cloud could be seen through the thrown particles of the Earth. A rescue helicopter was also used. The capsule is now being examined.
Leak discovered, astronauts are required to stay longer on the International Space Station
A leak was discovered a few months ago on a Soyuz capsule – according to Russian sources, it was likely caused by a small meteorite. This also delayed the return of Russians Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin and American Frank Rubio, who arrived at the space station in September with MS-22. They are now scheduled to fly again on September 27 with the replacement MS-23 spacecraft, which arrived in the meantime.
Even before they return, the outpost of humanity at an altitude of about 400 kilometers will be reinforced by three new astronauts. According to Roscosmos, the flight of the Soyuz MS-24 space capsule with cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chubb and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara is already scheduled for September 15.
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