High-resolution pictures of the Progress MS-21 spacecraft were taken by cosmonauts using the ISS' 17-meter-long Canadarm2 robotic arm, which revealed a 12-millimeter hole where the coolant fluid poured out of the cooling system on February 11th.
On February 11, a Russian unmanned Progress MS-22/83P cargo ship successfully docked to the Zvezda service module at the International Space Station (ISS); however, for the second time in just two months, another Progress has sprung a leak.
Shortly after docking, Russia's space agency Roscosmos in Moscow announced via Telegram that mission control detected a "depressurization" in the Progress MS-21/82 P's coolant loop.
Roscosmos and NASA both stated that the incident poses no threat to the station's crew.
A similar incident occurred in December 2022, during the preparation for two astronauts to conduct a spacewalk outside of the ISS, when Houston and Moscow mission control noticed a visible leak from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, which carried three astronauts to the ISS back in September 2022.
The leak was due to a small hole in the coolant line, Roscosmos' investigation concluded that micrometeoroid debris traveling at about seven kilometers per hour hit the spacecraft, and it deemed it unsafe to fly the crew back to Earth. Roscosmos stated via Telegram: After undocking from the ISS on February 18, a detailed photo and video survey of the Progress MS-21 spacecraft was carried out.
According to preliminary data from the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, named after S. P. Korolev (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation), Progress MS-21, like Soyuz MS-22 before it, was subjected to external influence. Such conclusions are made on the basis of images that show changes on the outer surface of the ship, including on the radiator of the instrument-aggregate compartment and solar panels.
Holes were found on them that were not fixed either during the manufacture of Progress MS-21 at the plant, during its preparation for launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, or during the flight and docking of the spacecraft with the ISS.
The Progress MS-21 dropped back into the atmosphere after completing a de-orbit burn on Saturday, burning and discarding many tons of waste and other unnecessary objects from the space station over the Pacific Ocean.
Roscosmos reported that management approved the new Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft, which would replace the damaged Soyuz, on Friday, February 24 at 3:24 a.m. Moscow Time (0024 GMT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
MS-23 will serve as a rescue spacecraft that will bring Cosmonauts Prokopyev, Dmitry Petelin, and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio back to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) in September. Their original Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft that brought them to the ISS lost all of its coolant on December 14, 2022. Roscosmos engineers have concluded that the damaged Soyuz cannot safely return its crew to Earth, except in the event of an emergency.
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