NASA has inquired about utilizing a SpaceX Dragon capsule to carry astronauts dwelling from the Worldwide House Station (ISS) following a latest leak aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule, a NASA weblog publish has acknowledged.
On Dec. 15, 2022, the Soyuz spacecraft MS-22 suffered a significant coolant leak whereas docked on the ISS simply previous to a deliberate Russian spacewalk. Whereas the leaky Soyuz poses no fast hazard to the house station or its crew, it stays unknown if the Soyuz craft is flightworthy; as such, the MS-22 crew now not has a viable lifeboat within the occasion of an emergency.
In an try to probably safe an alternate lifeboat for Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, NASA and Russian house company Roscosmos are conducting a evaluation of accessible choices, which included inquiring with SpaceX about utilizing one in all its Dragon capsules as a substitute for Soyuz MS-22.
“As part of the evaluation, NASA additionally reached out to SpaceX about its functionality to return extra crew members aboard Dragon if wanted in an emergency, though the first focus is on understanding the post-leak capabilities of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft,” the house company wrote in a Dec. 30 blog post (opens in new tab).
Associated: Rescue Soyuz spacecraft can’t reach International Space Station until February
A earlier report printed by Reuters acknowledged the identical, however NASA’s weblog publish confirms that the company is, in reality, mulling utilizing a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as an ISS lifeboat. “We’ve got requested SpaceX a couple of questions on their functionality to return extra crew members on Dragon if crucial, however that isn’t our prime focus presently,” NASA spokesperson Sandra Jones said in a statement to Reuters printed final Wednesday (Dec. 28).
An alternative choice is for Roscosmos to ship a substitute Soyuz craft. However the earliest such a mission may launch would be February, in keeping with statements made by Sergei Krikalev, head of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Coaching Heart close to Moscow, throughout a livestreamed NASA press convention on Dec. 22. “Our subsequent crew … was scheduled to fly in the course of March,” Krikalev mentioned, including that, on the earliest, a brand new Soyuz might be “despatched up just a little earlier … about two, three weeks earlier is on the most what we are able to do at this level.”
Roscosmos continues to be investigating the cause of the leak and plans to problem its findings this month. Russian state information company TASS reported on Dec. 27 that the leak was attributable to “external mechanical damage (opens in new tab),” though it stays unknown whether or not the offender was a meteoroid or house particles.
No matter the reason for the leak, the broken Soyuz spacecraft presents a big security concern for the MS-22 crew, Rubio, Petelin and Prokopyev. Tommaso Sgobba, govt director of the Worldwide Affiliation for the Development of House Security (IAASS) and a former head of spaceflight security on the European House Company, informed House.com that the leaky Soyuz is a huge risk. “This might likely be the primary time that the house station has no full lifeboat functionality,” Sgobba mentioned. “It is my private feeling, but when it is true, we’ve an enormous drawback on the house station. We’re lacking the crew escape system.”
One potential hindrance to utilizing a Dragon as a lifeboat is the spacesuits the crew of MS-22 wore; SpaceX capsules are designed to work together with custom-tailored SpaceX spacesuits, whereas the MS-22 crew launched to the ISS carrying Russian Sokol spacesuits.
SpaceX has but to problem a remark relating to the opportunity of sending a Dragon capsule to the ISS to interchange the beleaguered Soyuz MS-22.
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