Substitute Soyuz to convey house stranded ISS crew
The Russian area company Roscosmos says it can launch the following scheduled Soyuz – an uncrewed mission – one month early. That’s so it will probably exchange the leaking Soyuz capsule MS-22, presently docked on the Worldwide Area Station (ISS). That capsule carried three crew members to the ISS final September. However on December 15, 2022, a micrometeoroid – a tiny little bit of rock in area – struck the MS-22. The particle pierced the capsule’s radiator, inflicting it to leak. So, the Soyuz capsule MS-22 has been out of motion, its crew technically stranded till the substitute MS-23 arrives.
The stranded crew members are: Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Demitri Petelin, and American astronaut Frank Rubio.
MS-23 is scheduled to liftoff on February 20, 2023.
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Trio of ISS crew members haven’t any journey house
At the moment, there are seven individuals residing within the Worldwide Area Station. And there are solely 4 accessible seats to return house on the four-person SpaceX Dragon crew capsule presently docked on the ISS. So, the early launch of a Soyuz crew capsule isn’t a rescue mission, stated NASA ISS program supervisor Joel Montalbano. He was talking throughout a media briefing held Wednesday morning, January 11, 2023:
We’re not calling it a rescue Soyuz. Proper now, the crew is protected on board the area station. We, by design, have an area station that’s protected as we will (make it).
The upcoming mission just isn’t a rescue, as a result of there may be presently no menace to the protection of the marooned crew members. He stated:
I’m calling it a substitute Soyuz. That is the following Soyuz that was scheduled to fly in March. It’ll simply fly just a little earlier. From that standpoint, that’s sort of what we’re , however I’ll let you know there’s no rapid want for the crew to come back house as we speak that every one the programs are working.
The seven crew aboard the ISS make up Expedition 68, which is scheduled to finish in March 2023.
Substitute Soyuz is the most secure possibility
Sending up a substitute Soyuz capsule is the best choice to make sure the crew’s well-being throughout re-entry, stated Sergei Krikalev. He’s the chief director for human spaceflight applications at Roscosmos.
He stated techs and engineers at Roscosmos imagine the MS-22 Soyuz will survive returning to Earth. However the atmosphere inside it’d show overwhelming for any passengers. Krikalev described the hazard:
If a crew could be there then the temperatures … may very well be in excessive 30s, possibly low 40 levels centigrade. And temperature itself just isn’t so excessive, however the issue is that in small quantity, humidity could be excessive, and crew could overheat with excessive temperature and excessive humidity. That’s why we aren’t planning to make use of Soyuz in nominal conditions for entry.
Roscosmos can be counting on the hardiness of its Soviet-era expertise to see the capsule house in a single piece:
Krikalev additional defined:
As for re-entry, we anticipate that possibly we can have some overheating of kit and nonetheless we expect that Soyuz (has) a number of layers of redundancy, and if the pc fails, now we have functionality to proceed re-entry mode in analog with analog gear, so now we have a number of layers of redundancy, so we expect that Soyuz will return again safely.
15,660 mph meteor triggered leak
After analyzing the leak that began December 15, Roscosmos and NASA imagine a 1mm micrometeor triggered the leak. Touring at breakneck velocity, the minuscule piece of particles pierced the Russian spacecraft, Krikalev stated:
We nonetheless assume that it’s a micrometeor hit as a result of now we have (an) picture of the crater on (the) radiator. And we additionally made an experiment utilizing (a) particular high-velocity gun, and we did (an) experiment making an attempt to hit an aluminum plate with the identical construction with a small particle about 2 millimeters in diameter. And our results of this check utterly coincides with our calculation, so our present principle is that this injury was attributable to a small particle about 1 millimeter in diameter and velocity about 7 kilometers per second.
Which means the tiny rock that hit the Soyuz was transferring at round 15,660 mph (25,202 kph) relative to the ISS. The ISS orbits at a speedy 17,500 mph (28,000 kph) across the Earth.
No means house till March
With the MS-22 Soyuz not space-worthy, the trio it dropped at orbit don’t have a protected approach to get house within the occasion of an emergency. Ought to an evacuation scenario come up, the three must strive their luck with the broken Soyuz.
Arrival of their protected journey house remains to be weeks away, with added delays as soon as it arrives. Krikalev stated:
Proper now, we’re planning to ship it in (the) finish of February, February twentieth truly, and normally we have to have a few week for a crew handover and transferring all gear from one service (module) to a different if wanted. So at this level we additionally anticipate that we (will) put together and study to make use of (the substitute Soyuz for) per week or two after docking of latest Soyuz.
As a result of the three stranded area vacationers are an built-in crew, NASA and Roscosmos have put their heads collectively to seek out the very best answer. For NASA, that meant discovering out if SpaceX might assist:
As part of the evaluation, NASA additionally reached out to SpaceX about its functionality to return further 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.
Backside line: An uncrewed Soyuz capsule will fly to the ISS in February to offer a protected means house for a trio of quickly stranded crew members.
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