A Russian 'Progress' capsule docked with the ISS is leaking and losing coolant.
This creates new problems in Earth orbit.
Moscow – The drama in Earth orbit has no end: First, a Russian Soyuz space capsule that brought three astronauts to the International Space Station ISS leaked and lost coolant.
The capsule may only transport people in extreme emergencies.
While the astronauts on board the ISS are waiting for a new "Soyuz" capsule, which should fly to the space station in February, the next Russian capsule is causing a stir: A Russian "Progress" capsule, which is also on the ISS docked, a leak has now also been discovered through which coolant has leaked into space.
Although the "Progress" capsule is not used to transport people - it is a freighter that is supposed to burn up in the earth's atmosphere after decoupling from the ISS - the Russian space organization Roskosmos is still alarmed.
"Until the cause of the situation is determined, the decision has been made to delay the launch of the next Soyuz capsule," Roscosmos said.
"We emphasize that nothing endangers the life and health of the crew," it said.
Russian "Progress" capsule on ISS has a leak
So far, the Russian Space Agency assumed that the "Soyuz" capsule, which had a leak in December and lost its coolant, was hit by a micrometeorite.
Now that a leak has also occurred in a Russian “Progress” capsule, this theory is apparently being questioned.
The Russian space freighter "Progress MS-21" has been docked with the ISS since October 2022.
Now he has a leak.
It is currently planned that the three astronauts who came to the ISS with the now defective "Soyuz" capsule will remain in space for several months.
Then they should return to Earth with the new "Soyuz" capsule, the launch of which has now been postponed to March.
Three astronauts on the ISS are currently without a "life pod"
But until the new space capsule reaches the ISS, the three stranded astronauts have a problem: In the worst case, the space capsules that transport astronauts to the space station also serve as “rescue capsules”.
For example, if space debris comes too close to the ISS, the crew retreats to the space capsules and, in the worst case, can return directly to Earth.
This poses a problem for the three "Soyuz" passengers: Their capsule is only allowed to transport people in an absolute emergency, since re-entering the earth's atmosphere without coolant is very dangerous.
Nasa and SpaceX talk about better shield for "Crew Dragon"
For this reason, the American astronaut Frank Rubio should seek protection with four other astronauts in the "Crew Dragon" space capsule if the worst comes to the worst.
In an emergency, the two Russians Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev will have to make do with the defective "Soyuz" - at least until a new "Soyuz" capsule reaches the ISS.
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Meanwhile, the US space agency Nasa and the private space company SpaceX are talking about equipping the "Crew Dragon" capsules with a better protective shield.
However, the next SpaceX spacecraft, which is scheduled to carry the next four space travelers to the ISS at the end of February, will probably not have received this upgrade yet.
List of rubrics: © dpa/Nasa