Russian Soyuz leaks, 1 astronaut and 2 cosmonauts cannot return home until recovered

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – NASA and Russian space agency officials announce they will launch a capsule spacecraft Soyuz vacuum to the International Space Station (ISS) in February. The capsule was to replace a spacecraft that had a leak making it dangerous for the three crew members to return to Earth.

The new MS-23 Soyuz will be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to replace the damaged Soyuz MS-22 capsule on the ISS on February 20, 2023. The MS-22 suffered a coolant leak due to a micrometeoroid impact last December.

“We don’t call this a Soyuz rescue,” said NASA space station program manager Joel Montalbano. “I call it the replacement Soyuz. It’s the next Soyuz to fly in March, but it flew a little earlier.”

The replacement aircraft will carry NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and two Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin. All three have been living on the ISS with no aircraft to return to since the MS-22 Soyuz failed last month. “This is an unprecedented scenario,” NASA officials said.

The incident of a coolant leak on December 14, 2022 was recorded by the ISS video camera. The leak prevented the Soyuz MS-22 from keeping the crew capsule and systems cool enough for safe operation.

Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin nearly lost their vehicle to return to Earth. Meanwhile, the SpaceX Dragon capsule, which is docked to the ISS, is only designed to accommodate four crew members, all for astronauts on the Crew-5 mission. The Dragon could no longer carry a crew.

Read also : SpaceX Dragon Cargo Capsule is back on Earth after 6 weeks on the ISS

Here’s What Happens If You’re Forced To Go Home With An Uncooled Soyuz

“The main problem for landing on Soyuz (MS-22) today is the thermal conditions,” said Sergei Krikalev, executive director of human spaceflight systems at Roscosmos, also a veteran Russian cosmonaut.

“Because we have lost the heat rejection capability of the Soyuz, if we have the crew inside and all the equipment is activated, we may encounter a high temperature situation in the equipment compartment and the crew compartment,” he said.

A coolant leak from the Russian Soyuz crew capsule has been recorded on a video camera on the International Space Station (ISS). (Image credit: NASA)

He mentioned that the temperature inside the Soyuz could reach 40 degrees Celsius during the return trip to Earth. Humidity levels will also increase in the enclosed space of the capsule. For the record, the return trip to Earth takes at least six hours, and could be longer. “Such temperatures would not be healthy for the crew,” added Montalbano.

Read also : Regarding the “Flying Sweep”, does America really depend on Russian rocket engines?

Soyuz effect chain broken on the ISS

It has been decided that Rubio and company will return to Earth aboard Soyuz MS-23, but the exact time is not yet known. Their mission will be extended for several months because the Soyuz MS-23 was originally supposed to send a new crew to the ISS in March. The crew must now wait for another new Soyuz, the MS-24.

Krikalev said the delayed return would add at least a few more months to the initial six-month mission, which was launched in September 2022. In fact, he could face almost a year of potential flights while waiting for the launch of a replacement aircraft.

International Space Station (ISS). (

“The great thing about our crew is that they’re ready to help whenever we ask.” said Montalbano. “They’re prepared to stick around until the September launch date if that comes to mind. Including if that launch date moves earlier, then they’re preparing to go home earlier.

Another impact, NASA plans to delay the launch of the Crew-6 astronauts with the SpaceX Dragon capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket. The initial objective of this mission is February 16.

Montalbano said NASA and SpaceX have prepared a contingency plan in case the now-stranded Soyuz MS-22 crew needs to return to Earth before the Soyuz MS-23 arrives. The plan currently calls for securing the Soyuz crew inside the Crew-5 Dragon capsule loading area, but talks are still ongoing.

As for the plans for the Soyuz MS-22 capsule, Krikalev said, it will still be guided to a landing in Kazakhstan. But this landing will be delayed, taking place a few weeks after the arrival of the Soyuz MS-23 at the ISS. Indeed, Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin first had to move their equipment from the old plane to the new one.

Meanwhile, Soyuz MS-22 will be used to transport equipment and results of scientific experiments that will not be damaged by high temperatures in the capsule cabin during a trip to Earth. “The new Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft will also be loaded with additional cargo instead of a human crew during launch,” Krikalev said.

Montalbano added that station engineers will also take temperature measurements inside the unmanned Soyuz MS-22 when it returns to Earth. The goal is to understand what the heating environment looks like in the plane.


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Robert Butler

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