February 1, 2023

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It is not known how the astronauts will return from space to Earth. The cause of the Soyuz failure is still unknown

A few months ago, the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked with the International Space Station (ISS). He had a serious coolant leak. Engineers from Roskosmos and NASA are looking for the cause of the failure. In addition, they are considering how to help astronauts on the International Space Station return safely to Earth. One concept assumes the support of the commercial company SpaceX.

engineers NASA It intends to investigate whether SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft could be a potential transport vehicle for some members of the International Space Station (ISS) crew after Russia’s Soyuz MS-22 capsule leaked during docking. In September, a leaked capsule carried an American soldier and two Russians to the International Space Station: Frank Rubio, Sergei Prokofiev, and Dmitry Petlin.

Find the cause

NASA and employees of the Russian space agency Roscosmos have been searching for weeks for the cause of the malfunction of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, which was supposed to return to Earth in March with three cosmonauts. It could be caused by the capsule hitting a piece of space rock or space debris. It is also possible that the failure occurred in the capsule itself. If it happens due to the latter possibility, it would undermine the safety and security of all other devices in the Soyuz family.

– I can assure you it’s something [Rosjanie – przyp. red.] They check and evaluate. “The Russians are really good at not talking about what they’re doing, but they’re very precise about what they do,” said Mike Suffredini, who led NASA’s International Space Station program from 2005 to 2015.

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And Yuri Borisov, the head of Roscosmos, promised that in the next few days the engineers would decide how the crew would return to Earth. Time is not an ally here, because it is not known how long the temperature in the capsule will remain “within acceptable limits.” Currently, its crew cabin is ventilated through an air intake from an open hatch to the ISS. According to Sergei Krikalev, the head of manned space programs in Russia, if the hatch is closed, the temperature will rise sharply.

The problem may indeed have been caused by a recent meteor shower, but as program director Joel Montalbano points out, the rock that destroyed the cooling system must have come from an unexpected direction. Therefore, it is more likely to hit a piece of space debris. However, this hypothesis fuels concerns about the increasingly hostile orbital environment and proper spacecraft construction.

International Space Station (ISS)stock struggle

They don’t know how to help them come back

An unplanned leak thwarted the plans of Russian engineers, forcing them to find a workaround for the safe return of researchers from the International Space Station. One of the options was to send Universe Another ship of the same family, but due to technical conditions, it could be very risky and attract a lot of criticism. That’s why NASA came up with and introduced a different concept – that includes supporting the commercial space enterprise – SpaceX.

“We’ve asked SpaceX several questions about its ability to fly additional crew members aboard Dragon if needed,” NASA spokeswoman Sandra Jones said. At the moment, it is not clear if it is a matter of finding a way to increase the capacity of the ship or launching an empty capsule to help the crew.

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There are currently four other astronauts on the International Space Station. Two work for NASA, one for Roscosmos, and the last for JAXA – the Japanese Aerospace Agency. The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule has also been parked on the International Space Station since October. This ship is only able to accommodate four people. Aside from the Russian Soyuz, it is the only reusable mode of transport on which people can travel to and from the International Space Station.

The International Space Station will be visible in the skyNASA

Main image source: stock struggle