New Rescue Craft Sent to Space Station


International Space Station over the planet Earth. Elements of this image furnished by NASA. | Image by Vadim Sadovski, Shutterstock

Russia has deployed a new rescue craft for Russian American crew aboard the International Space Station. This marks the first time in 60 years that a spacecraft was launched as a replacement for another damaged craft.

A cosmonaut spacewalk was canceled in December 2022 after crews onboard discovered a leak coming from the aft portion of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft in December 2022, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. The crew aboard the space station had observed coolant from the craft leaking out into surrounding space.

Russian officials attributed this leak to a collision of the craft with a micrometeorite. 

This same event appears to have occurred with a Russian cargo craft that is also docked at the station.

Officials had determined it was too risky to return astronaut Frank Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin to Earth in the damaged craft at the originally determined time in January, according to WFAA. Officials believed that without the coolant, the crafts systems could be damaged and those inside could be exposed to extreme heat upon re-entering the atmosphere.

Because of this, a new Soyuz craft was launched on February 24.

Astronaut Rubio is to move to a SpaceX crew capsule on the space station while Prokopyev and Petelin will remain assigned in the damaged spacecraft Soyuz until the new craft arrives. Russian officials believe that having one less person inside the craft will allow for temperature management.

The crew will remain onboard the station until a replacement crew is sent to the station in September, extending their stay in space from six months to a full year.

NASA deputy space station program manager Dana Weigel said that Russian officials are examining both of the damaged crafts.

“They’re looking at everything … to try to understand that,” said Weigel, according to WFAA.

The damaged Soyuz will return to Earth unmanned for examination by the end of March, while the damaged supply craft was filled with refuse and jettisoned to be burned up in the atmosphere.

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