Russia’s area company will launch an empty Soyuz capsule to the Worldwide Area Station February to exchange a broken spacecraft that’s unsafe to return its crew of three to Earth, NASA and Russian area officers stated Wednesday (Jan. 11).
The brand new MS-23 Soyuz spacecraft will launch on Feb. 20 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to exchange the stricken Soyuz MS-22 capsule on the station, which suffered a coolant leak on Dec. 14 after being struck by a possible micrometeoroid, NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos company stated.
“We’re not calling this a rescue Soyuz,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s area station program supervisor, informed reporters Wednesday. “I am calling it a alternative Soyuz. That is the following Soyuz that was scheduled to fly in March. It can simply fly a little bit early.”
The alternative Soyuz spacecraft will function the brand new lifeboat and return craft for NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, who’ve been residing on the International Space Station and not using a return ship since their MS-22 Soyuz was broken final month. It is an unprecedented state of affairs, officers have stated.
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The coolant leak on Dec. 14, which was captured in dramatic video by station cameras, meant the Soyuz MS-22 is unable to maintain its crew capsule and techniques cool sufficient for protected operation. That left its crew and not using a lifeboat in case of an emergency, because the at present docked SpaceX Dragon capsule was designed to carry solely its 4 Crew-5 mission astronauts, not seven individuals.
“The primary drawback to land with the present Soyuz could be thermal circumstances,” Sergei Krikalev, a veteran Russian cosmonaut and Roscosmos’ govt director for human spaceflight techniques, stated in the course of the information convention. “As a result of we misplaced warmth rejection functionality on Soyuz, in case we now have crew inside and we now have all gear switched on, we could have a high-temperature state of affairs on Soyuz within the gear compartment and crew compartment.” He famous that within the confined area of the capsule, humidity ranges would additionally soar.
“The temperatures in these areas wouldn’t be wholesome for the crew,” Montalbano added.
Rubio and his crewmates will now return to Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-23, however precisely when shouldn’t be but recognized. Their mission will likely be prolonged by months as a result of their Soyuz MS-23 was initially slated to ship a brand new crew to the station in March. That crew will now have to attend for one more new Soyuz, MS-24, to be accomplished.
Krikalev stated that the delayed return will add at the least a number of extra months to the crew’s unique six-month mission, which launched in September 2022, and that they may face the potential of a virtually yearlong flight whereas awaiting their reduction crew’s launch.
“The superior factor about our crews is that they’re keen to assist wherever we ask.” Montalbano stated. “They’re ready to remain till the September launch date if that is the case. In the event that they go earlier, and that launch date strikes up earlier, then they’re ready to come back residence earlier.
“I’ll need to fly some extra ice cream to reward them,” Montalbano added.
In the meantime, NASA is weighing potential delays to its Crew-6 astronaut launch on a SpaceX Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket, at present focusing on Feb. 16. A ripple impact is probably going as NASA and Russia rearrange launch schedules.
Montalbano stated NASA and SpaceX have been engaged on contingency plans in case the stranded Soyuz MS-22 crew must return to Earth earlier than their new Soyuz MS-23 ship arrives. These plans at present name for securing the Soyuz crew contained in the cargo space of the Crew-5 Dragon capsule, however talks are nonetheless ongoing, he added.
Whereas the stricken Soyuz MS-22 capsule is unfit to hold a human crew, it’s going to nonetheless be guided to a nominal touchdown on the steppes of Kazakhstan, Krikalev stated. That touchdown will happen a number of weeks after the alternative Soyuz MS-23 arrives on the station, since Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin should switch their customized seat liners, Sokol entry fits and different gear to the brand new ship.
Krikalev stated Roscosmos will load up the departing Soyuz MS-22 craft with gear and science experiment outcomes that will not be harmed by greater temperatures in the course of the journey to Earth. And the brand new Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft will likely be loaded with additional cargo instead of a human crew when it launches, he added.
Montalbano stated station engineers can even take shut measurements of the temperatures contained in the uncrewed Soyuz MS-22 when it returns to Earth to grasp what the heating atmosphere is like on such a broken spacecraft.
“So we will absolutely use this automobile all the way in which to till it lands again on Earth,” Montalbano stated.
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