Concern after a leak on the Soyuz spacecraft docked at the ISS
The European robotic arm controlled by astronaut Anna Kikina inspects the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft after the detection of a leak that led to the cancellation of a spacewalk.
The Russian and American space agencies were working on Thursday to assess the seriousness of an impressive leak that occurred the day before on a Russian spacecraft docked at the International Space Station (ISS), which could have been caused by a micrometeorite impact.
While the crew members were not at any time endangered, this incident caused concern regarding the return flight to Earth of three of them. between them, planned in a few months aboard the ship concerned.
The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft has been docked on the Space Station (ISS) since it brought the two Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitry Petelin, as well as the American astronaut Frank Rubio, there in September.
On Wednesday, the two Russians were preparing for a spacewalk when an alert system went off, indicating a drop in pressure in the spacecraft's cooling system, according to a statement from the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
In images transmitted by NASA, you could clearly see a jet of white particles escaping abundantly into space – presumably coolant.
The cause of the leak could be a micrometeorite, Sergei Krikaliov, the director of human spaceflight for Roscosmos, said on Thursday, according to a statement reported by Russian news agency Tass.
The liquid came from the rear part of the vehicle, docked at the Russian segment of the station. The leak then stopped on its own.
The spacewalk has been canceled, to allow time to assess the fluid and potential impacts to the integrity of the Soyuz spacecraft, NASA said in a statement Thursday.
Crew members aboard the Space Station are safe and were not endangered during the escape, she added, later stating that inspections of the space station exterior of the Russian spacecraft were to be conducted using the Canadian robotic arm of the ISS.
This photo taken in 2018 shows the completed space station.
The two Russian cosmonauts and the American astronaut arrived in the ISS on September 21, aboard a Russian rocket launched from Kazakhstan.
They must normally reuse the same ship to return to Earth after about six months, i.e. an end of mission in March 2023.
If the vehicle is no longer available because damaged, possible workarounds, which have not been officially detailed, could include sending in a new ship.
Four other people are currently aboard the ISS: Russian Anna Kikina, Americans Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, and Japanese Koichi Wakata.
All four are part of the x27;crew of Crew-5, arrived in October in the ISS on board a spacecraft of the American space company SpaceX, whose services NASA hires.
The exchange of flying a Russian cosmonaut aboard an American spacecraft, and an American astronaut aboard a Russian spacecraft, was long planned and was maintained despite high tensions between the two countries.
The ISS is one of the few fields of cooperation still in progress between Moscow and Washington since the beginning of the Russian offensive in Ukraine, triggered on February 24, and subsequent Western sanctions.
The International Space Station was launched in 1998 at a time of U.S.- Russia, after the space race that the two countries engaged in during the Cold War years.