It will be a while before a space station crew that currently relies on the leaky Soyuz comes back up to get home.
should the Soyuz The MS-22 spacecraft is then considered unsafe Space coolant launch December 14thTwo astronauts and a NASA astronaut will need to wait until February for a Soyuz backup to arrive International Space Station (ISS), a Russian space official said during a press conference on Thursday (December 22).
“Our next crew fly… was scheduled for mid-March,” Sergei Krikalev, head of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow, said during the news conference broadcast live by NASA.
The new Soyuz could instead be launched onto Earth planned for this crew empty to retrieve the three ISS crew members if they are already stranded. But Krikalev said it could only be “sent in a little earlier…about two or three weeks in advance is the most we can do at this point”.
Pictures: International Space Station on the 20th
The cause of the crater that caused the leak is still under investigation, but one clue has been ruled out: It wasn’t part of the ongoing Geminid meteor shower, as the trajectory was in the wrong direction, Joel Montalbano, NASA’s ISS program manager, said. during the same briefing.
On Sunday (December 18), NASA worked with cameras on the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm. Study found small hole On MS-22, this is the likely cause of the leak, but how the hole appeared is not yet known.
“We got some imagery work to better understand if it was a meteor strike or if there was a hardware problem, and that work is ahead of us,” Montalbano said. Another possibility is a piece of space junkBut Krikalev said such an object would be too small to track from Earth as the hole was only 0.8 millimeters wide.
If Russia does indeed fast-track the next Soyuz to the space station, the damaged MS-22 will return empty. “Roscosmos will plan to return the existing Soyuz to orbit and collect data so they can use it for future assessments,” Montalbano said.
Elizabeth Howell is co-author of “Why am I taller (Opens in a new tab)? (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book on space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @employee (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @employee (Opens in a new tab) or Facebook (Opens in a new tab).