The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, victim of a spectacular leak in December while being docked to the International Space Station (ISS), landed empty Tuesday in Kazakhstan, as planned, according to images released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
The capsule landed at 5:46 p.m. local time (11:46 a.m. Paris time) in the steppes of this immense Central Asian country, according to the Roscosmos television broadcast.
Roscosmos said in a statement that 218 kilos of cargo, including the results of scientific experiments, were transported aboard the Soyuz MS-22, which landed southeast of the city of Jezkazgan (center).
This spacecraft, which was originally supposed to bring American astronaut Frank Rubio and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitri Peteline back to Earth, had suffered a spectacular leak of coolant.
Impact of a micrometeorite
This incident is due to the impact of a micrometeorite according to Moscow, which had decided to send the MS-23 vessel as a replacement.
The coolant leak had raised concerns about the temperature that might be reached inside the ship when it returned to Earth.
The three members of MS-22, who took off at the end of September 2022, were to return to Earth at the end of March, but will not finally be repatriated until next September.
A leak similar to the December incident also affected another Russian spacecraft, the Progress MS-21 cargo ship, docked at the ISS since October in mid-February.
But this one was not intended to carry passengers, and it undocked last week.
The ISS is one of the few fields of cooperation still ongoing between Moscow and Washington since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine and the international sanctions that followed.