NASA is thinking about saving SpaceX astronauts as backup after the Soyuz leak
NASA could use a SpaceX spacecraft to rescue three space station crew members, relying on a leaky Soyuz to get home, a report suggests.
The Soyuz spacecraft on the International Space Station suffered a serious coolant leak on December 15 and a decision on whether it is safe to send the crew back to Earth with it will come in January, Russia has said. If a Soyuz rescue craft is needed, it can only come in Februarytwo or three weeks before the normal changeover in March.
NASA is apparently considering its use SpaceXthe only company currently flying astronauts into space from American soil, as a backup if these options don’t work.
“We’ve asked SpaceX a few questions about their ability to return additional crew members on Dragon if needed, but that’s not our main focus at this point,” said NASA spokesperson Sandra Jones. said in a statement to Reuters (opens in new tab), published on Wednesday (December 28). SpaceX did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
NASA has not clarified with Reuters what options are possible with SpaceX, such as whether the company could launch a backup Crew Dragon spacecraft to pick up the crew, or add more seats to the existing Dragon (named Endeavor) docked at the space station.
All seats on Endeavor are nominally full as it should bring home Crew-5 in early 2023, including NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina.
The crew that operated the stricken Soyuz, dubbed MS-22, includes Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who each launched into space in a Russian Sokol space suit. Normally, SpaceX only launches crew members who are equipped for a custom SpaceX spacesuit. How this problem would be solved was also not covered in the report.
The source of the leak on Soyuz MS-22 has not yet been determined, but it could be from space debris or a micrometeroid that could not be tracked due to its small size. Follow-up scans of the Soyuz showed a hole in the outside of the radiator.
The ISS crew is not in immediate danger from the situation, but the concern is if the complex needs to be evacuated for any reason, as three people may not have a safe ride home for now.
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of “Why am I taller (opens in new tab)(ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a space medicine book. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).
#NASA #thinking #saving #SpaceX #astronauts #backup #Soyuz #leak