WASHINGTON — As astronauts accomplished a delayed spacewalk exterior the Worldwide Area Station, NASA and Roscosmos officers mentioned they’re persevering with to review whether or not a Soyuz spacecraft that suffered a coolant leak can safely return its crew house.
NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Frank Rubio efficiently accomplished a spacewalk Dec. 22 lasting seven hours and eight minutes. The 2 put in the fourth of six ISS Roll-Out Photo voltaic Array, or iROSA, panels on the station that can complement the station’s current arrays.
The spacewalk was scheduled for Dec. 21 however postponed as Cassada and Rubio have been in remaining preparations to start out it. NASA delayed the spacewalk after concluding a chunk of orbital particles, a fraction of a Fregat higher stage, would move inside a half-kilometer of the station, prompting a particles avoidance maneuver by a Progress cargo spacecraft docked to the station.
NASA beforehand delayed the spacewalk from Dec. 19 to permit the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm for use to survey the outside of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the ISS. That spacecraft suffered a coolant leak Dec. 14, delaying a separate spacewalk by Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin.
At a Dec. 22 media teleconference that happened in the course of the spacewalk, NASA and Roscosmos managers mentioned the investigation into that leak is ongoing. The opening is just a few millimeters throughout, mentioned Sergei Krikalev, govt director of human spaceflight packages at Roscosmos, affecting a coolant pipe lower than a millimeter throughout.
“Now we’re doing thermal evaluation to see if we will use this automobile to do a nominal reentry with a crew,” he mentioned, “or if we have to ship a rescue automobile to the station sooner or later.”
Within the latter case, the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft could be launched to the station and not using a crew to exchange Soyuz MS-22, which introduced Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio to the station in September. It could function a lifeboat for these three ISS crew members, with Soyuz MS-22 returning to Earth and not using a crew.
Soyuz MS-23 is at the moment scheduled to launch on a crew rotation mission in the course of March. Krikalev mentioned its launch may very well be moved up two to 3 weeks if mandatory. Nevertheless, if it must be launched and not using a crew, it’s unclear what it might imply for future crew rotation missions. Krikalev mentioned solely these plans would should be “readjusted.”
The reason for the leak stays underneath investigation however each Krikalev and Joel Montalbano, NASA ISS program supervisor, dominated out a micrometeoroid hit from the Geminid meteor bathe. Russian officials in the days after the link suggested that meteor shower, which took place in mid-December, could have caused the leak, however provided no proof to assist that conclusion.
Controllers in each Houston and Moscow concluded the opening was not within the route of the bathe, however nonetheless aren’t positive what triggered it. “We’re attempting to get higher video and imagery of that gap,” Montalbano mentioned. “Proper now, we haven’t confirmed that’s an MMOD, micrometeoroid particles, or another kind of failure.”
He mentioned the route of the leak meant that coolant didn’t contaminate exterior surfaces of the station, like photo voltaic panels or home windows. That was one thing controllers reviewed earlier than continuing with the spacewalk by Cassada and Rubio.
Montalbano mentioned NASA and Roscosmos have carefully coordinated on the Soyuz leak investigation, together with common discussions between the 2 of them in addition to at operational ranges. “The groups are going forwards and backwards. We’re continually exchanging knowledge,” he mentioned. “The groups have labored collectively as they at all times have.”
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