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Russia sends rescue rocket to the International Space Station


Because their Soyuz capsule is broken, three astronauts are stuck on the International Space Station ISS. Now there is a plan for the return flight – but it will take a while.

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This shot shows coolant escaping


The Russian space agency Roskosmos has announced a rescue operation for several crew members of the International Space Station ISS.

Actually, three astronauts were supposed to return to earth with the Soyuz capsule that had brought them into space.

But this has a leak and could therefore become a death trap.

Experts have been thinking for weeks about how to bring the astronauts home.

NASA had also informed about a possible rescue from the space company SpaceX.

But now it is clear: Russia will take over the rescue.

Rescue comes on February 20th

Another Soyuz rocket is scheduled to fly to the ISS on Feb. 20 to return the two Russian cosmonauts and a US astronaut to Earth, Roscosmos said on Wednesday.

The spaceship with the leak should therefore fly back without a crew.

The leak was discovered in December.

According to Roscosmos, the damage to the Soyuz MS-22 is due to the impact of a small meteorite, which caused a hole in the cooling system less than a millimeter in diameter.

Images from the US space agency Nasa showed how white particles – apparently the coolant – escaped from the spacecraft like snow.

The Russian space agency assured that the problems were not caused by a technical defect.

Without the cooling, the astronauts could get life-threateningly hot in the spaceship on their return journey.

That's why a replacement is needed.

Originally, the Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopjew and Dmitri Petelin and their US colleague Frank Rubio were supposed to fly back to Earth with the MS-22.

Now the astronauts who have been stationed on the ISS since September are to be picked up by the MS-23 instead.

According to Roskosmos, the Soyuz rocket completed the outward flight to the ISS unmanned on February 20, it only takes material on board.

Mission is extended

The rescue operation upsets the schedule of the Russian space agency.

Originally, the MS-23 was only supposed to fly to the ISS on March 16, taking three astronauts with it.

Exactly when the spacecraft will bring Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio back to Earth has not been announced.

All it said was that their mission would be "extended."

Roskosmos and Nasa had initially assured that the leak in the Soyuz rocket posed no danger to the ISS crew.

However, since the MS-22 is defective, only one spaceship with four seats is available for the currently seven crew members of the space station.

In the event of an emergency that makes it necessary to evacuate the ISS, the astronauts may have to resort to the spacecraft with the leak.

Since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine in February last year, space has been one of the few areas where Russia and the US are still cooperating.

The ISS has been in operation since 1998.


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2023-01-11

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