24/7 Space News
SPACE TRAVEL
Russian rescue mission for three space station astronauts set this week
ADVERTISEMENT
Russian rescue mission for three space station astronauts set this week
by Adam Schrader
Washington DC (UPI) Feb 21, 2023

Russia's space agency Roscosmos' delayed rescue mission to send a Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station and bring three astronauts back to Earth is scheduled to lift off Thursday night EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Russia originally had planned to send an unmanned Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft to the space station Feb. 14 to substitute for the docked Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, which took the astronauts there and was to bring them back.

But while docked, the MS-22 capsule started to leak coolant last year after it was struck by meteoroid, and it was deemed unsafe to carry the space travelers home.

The rescue mission, however, was put on hold after another Russian spacecraft, the Progress MS-21 cargo ship, also docked at the space station, suffered a similar leak.

That raised questions whether the rescue craft also might start to leak during flight, possibly because of a design defect.

The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft carried U.S. astronaut Frank Rubio, along with cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev, to the space station Sept. 21.

Instead of bringing them home, it now is expected to return to Earth uncrewed after Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft has retrieved the crew.

Yuri Borisov, the head of Roscosmos, announced the delay in the rescue mission.

"Roscosmos continues to investigate the cause of the depressurization of the thermal control system of the Progress MS-21 cargo ship, which occurred on Feb. 11 at the International Space Station," the space agency said in a post on Telegram.

Russian officials said that they collaborated with NASA to inspect a possible damage site on the outer surface of the ship.

"Now, the American side is bringing the manipulator to the Progress MS-21, after which a video camera will be used to film and film the ship's instrument-aggregate compartment," Roscosmos said after the leak on the supply ship was detected.

"The received materials will be transferred to Russian specialists on Earth for further analysis."

Later Tuesday, Roscosmos said that the inspection of the Progress MS-21 cargo spacecraft was completed, and that officials will investigate the reason for the depressurization of the ship's thermal control system.

Sophie Goguichvili, the program associate for the science and technology innovation program with the Wilson Center think tank in Washington, D.C., told UPI that meteoroids will continue to be an issue for Roscosmos and other spaceflight operators.

"This is going to continue being a problem, and will be further exacerbated due to additional threats brought on by man-made orbital debris, often generated by the use of anti-satellite weapons," Goguichvili said.

She noted that the U.S. Space Command is tracking more than 47,000 objects in space, which is fewer than 0.01% of objects that are orbiting Earth.

"These objects can travel at incredibly high speeds, fast enough for a relatively small piece of debris -- even a speck of paint -- to damage a satellite or a spacecraft," she said.

"And with each new collision, tens of thousands of pieces of debris are created and exponentially increase the threat of future collisions [a phenomenon known as the Kessler Syndrome], which further put space systems such as the ISS -- and the people inside of them -- in grave danger," Goguichvili said.

"This is not the first time Russian spacecraft have suffered leaks," she added.

She said that a "slight drop" in cabin pressure at the space station in 2018 was traced back to a small hole in the habitation compartment of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft.

"Upon investigating it, Russia blamed NASA astronauts and even alleged that a U.S. crew member 'drilled the hole' deliberately. So even without the war in Ukraine, diplomatic tensions were high," Goguichvili said.

Because of that incident, Goguichvili called it "understandable" that NASA and Roscosmos would want to investigate further after a second consecutive coolant leak in a matter of months to ensure that Soyuz MS-23 will be capable of returning the three astronauts back home.

"The probability of two leaks occurring only two months apart when such events haven't occurred in the 25 years the ISS has been operating seems frankly incredible, and hence makes it even more impossible to ignore," Goguichvili said.

Despite any tensions on Earth between the two governments, Goguichvili said that U.S.-Russian cooperation aboard the ISS "is quite free of tension," which she attributed largely to the need of astronauts and cosmonauts to operate the research outpost.

"NASA has been working with Roscosmos throughout the investigation and will continue to work with its Commercial Crew Program and Canadian, Japanese and European partners to refine upcoming flight dates over the next several weeks," the space agency said in a statement in January.

"NASA also continues its discussions with SpaceX regarding the possibility of using the Crew-5 spacecraft to return additional crew in the event of a station emergency prior to the arrival of Soyuz MS-23."

NASA's SpaceX Crew-6 mission is to carry another crew of astronauts to the space station aboard a Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket Saturday, officials said.

NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg will be a part of that crew, as well as astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi from the United Arab Emirates and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev.

During a media briefing earlier in January, NASA ISS Program Manager Joel Montalbano noted that a SpaceX Dragon capsule could not be sent to rescue the astronauts from the Soyuz mission because the Dragon capsule requires a different space suit from Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

Officials added during that news briefing that the Soyuz MS-22 aircraft is not repairable from space if parts were sent to the space station because damage occurred on the end of the spacecraft farthest from the docking port, where there are no handrails or support structures for astronauts.

Though concerns exist for the safety of the astronauts amid their prolonged mission at the space station, Montalbano said in January that "there's no immediate need for the crew to come home today."

But the current situation does break a safety rule, Goguichvili said.

"For as long as the ISS has been operational, there has been an ironclad rule that there can only be as many people on board as you have lifeboats to get them off," she said. "And right now, that is not the case."

Related Links
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

RELATED CONTENT
The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
SPACE TRAVEL
Crew stuck on ISS to return to Earth in September: Russia
Moscow (AFP) Feb 21, 2023
Russia's space agency on Tuesday said that the crew stuck on the International Space Station because of a damaged capsule were now expected to return to Earth in September, a year after they first launched into orbit. Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio flew to the ISS in September 2022 aboard a Soyuz MS-22 capsule. They were scheduled to return home in the same spacecraft, but it began leaking coolant in mid-December after being hit by what US a ... read more

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
SPACE TRAVEL
Russia claims Progress leak caused by an "external impact"

Russian rescue mission for three space station astronauts set this week

Russia launches crew-less Soyuz to ISS as replacement

Farming on the Moon

SPACE TRAVEL
World's first 3D-printed rocket Terran 1 is ready for its maiden flight

SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket from Florida, part of Inmarsat program

SpaceX Endeavour's crew arrive at KSC ahead of launch

Flight Crew Arrives at NASA's Kennedy Space Center for Crew-6 Mission

SPACE TRAVEL
Perseverance set to begin third year on Mars at Jezero Crater

Drilling the Marker Band Again: Sols 3750-3751

Another Busy Day on Mars: Sol 3749

Better tools needed to determine ancient life on Mars

SPACE TRAVEL
China's space station experiments pave way for new space technology

China solicits logos for manned space missions in 2023

Two crews set for Tiangong station in '23

Large number of launches planned

SPACE TRAVEL
New research models concept for data transport using train of satellites

New transmitter design for small satellite constellations improves signal transmission

Vast acquires launcher to accelerate growth

Luxembourg taps into SES's O3b mPOWER for defense and disaster recovery

SPACE TRAVEL
Low power Ka-band transmitters on Earth observation satellites

Radiation-resistant Ka-band radio for LEO constellation offers speeds Beyond 5G

Redwire partners with Starfish Space for Otter Pup satellite docking mission

Exploring the Valley of the Kings with radar

SPACE TRAVEL
CARMENES project boosts the number of known planets in the solar neighbourhood

"Forbidden" planet orbiting small star challenges gas giant formation theories

Very Large Telescope captures direct images of bright exoplanet

Does ice in the Universe contain the molecules making up the building blocks of life in planetary systems?

SPACE TRAVEL
Newly discovered form of salty ice could exist on surface of extraterrestrial moons

New aurorae detected on Jupiter's four largest moons

JUICE's final take-off before lift-off

A new ring system discovered in our Solar System

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


ADVERTISEMENT



The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.