Russian Spacecraft Suffers Coolant Leak, Replacement Soyuz Launching
On December 14, 2022, the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked with the International Space Station (ISS) suffered a catastrophic coolant leak. Russian mission controllers initially suspected that the leak was caused by a micrometeoroid strike, and NASA publicly accepted this explanation. The leaky spacecraft was deemed unfit to carry astronauts, so Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, plans to launch another Soyuz later this month to take its place.
The leaky Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft had been due to bring cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, as well as NASA's Frank Rubio, back to Earth in March. To replace this craft, an unpiloted Soyuz is being launched February 19 and is scheduled to dock at the Poisk module on February 21. This spacecraft will bring the MS-22 crew back to Earth, likely in late September.
Unfortunately, on February 11, another Russian spacecraft docked with the ISS experienced a coolant leak. The Progress MS-21/82S spacecraft, which had arrived to the space station in October 2022, was found to have a depressurization in its coolant loop. NASA and Roscosmos declared that the seven-member crew aboard the station was in no danger and that the hatches between the spacecraft and the station were open and normal.
Meanwhile, a new Progress was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying nearly 3 tons of supplies and equipment. That spacecraft successfully caught up with the space station and docked without incident at the aft port of the Russian Zvezda module.
The Russian space agency is still investigating the cause of the coolant leak in the Progress 82 spacecraft. It is currently scheduled to undock from the ISS this Friday, February 17, filled with trash and will be deorbited over the Pacific Ocean.
Going forward, the plan is to keep the vehicle as is, with no additional troubleshooting or actions to be done in the short term. However, plans may change as more information on the issue is gathered.
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1. “Russian Progress cargo craft at space station springs a leak” Space.com, 11 Feb. 2023, https://www.space.com/russia-progress-82-cargo-spacecraft-leak
2. “Another Russian spacecraft docked to the space station is leaking” Ars Technica, 11 Feb. 2023, https://arstechnica.com/science/2023/02/another-russian-spacecraft-docked-to-the-space-station-is-leaking
3. “Space Station Progress 82 Cargo Ship Experiences Coolant Loss” Space Ref, 11 Feb. 2023, https://spaceref.com/space-stations/space-station-progress-82-cargo-ship-experiences-coolant-loss/
4. “Russian cargo ship suffers loss of coolant” Yahoo! Voices, 11 Feb. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/news/russian-cargo-ship-suffers-loss-170620707.html