Russia is drawing up a new contingency plan for the crew of the damaged space capsule

Russia is drawing up a new contingency plan for the crew of the damaged space capsule

Russia is drawing up a new contingency plan for the crew of the damaged space capsule

A stream of particles, which NASA says appears to be liquid and possibly coolant, is spewing from the Soyuz spacecraft on the International Space Station, delaying a routinely scheduled spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts for Dec. 14, 2022. (NASATV)

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MOSCOW — The Russian space agency Roscosmos on Saturday announced new contingency plans for the three crew members of a damaged capsule docked at the International Space Station. coming weeks.

The Soyuz MS-22 capsule, which serves as a lifeboat for the crew, leaked a coolant last month after it was hit by a micrometeoroid – a tiny particle of space rock – that made a small hole and caused the temperature inside to rise.

Roscosmos and NASA said this week that a new spacecraft, Soyuz MS-23, would launch next month to retrieve cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and American astronaut Frank Rubio. But it won’t dock with the ISS until February 22.

Since there could be an earlier emergency, Rubio’s seat was moved from MS-22 to a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, also docked at the ISS, Roscosmos said Saturday.

If an emergency evacuation is necessary, Francisco Rubio will return to Earth (Crew Dragon) on it, and Roscosmos cosmonauts (return) on Soyuz MS-22, it said.

“The descent of two cosmonauts instead of three will be safer, as it will help lower the temperature and humidity in Soyuz MS-22.”

The mission was supposed to end in March, but the plan now is to extend it by several months and bring the three men home with the MS-23. The latter was due to take on three new crew members in March, but will instead launch empty next month to dock with the ISS.

Four other crew members are currently on the orbital station — two more from NASA, a third Russian and a Japanese astronaut, all of whom arrived in October on the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

Relations between Russia and the United States have been poisoned by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, but the two countries continue to work closely together on the ISS, an orbital laboratory 400 kilometers above Earth that has been continuously occupied for two decades.

However, Russia has said it plans to drop the aging project after 2024 and launch its own station.

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