The ship depressurized, possibly after being hit by a micrometeorite
The mission of the crew of the manned spacecraft “Soyuz MS-22” will be extended by several months. Sergey Krikalyov, executive director of Roscosmos for manned space programs, said this on Wednesday at a telephone press conference, as quoted by TASS.
The crew consists of cosmonauts Sergey Prokopiev, Dmitry Petelin and astronaut Frank Rubio.
“We will probably extend the mission of this crew for a few more months,” Krikalyov said.
According to him, the health condition of the Soyuz MS-22 crew is assessed as good. Krikalyov emphasized that in a critical situation, one of the cosmonauts of the “Soyuz MS-22” mission could eventually be returned to Earth with the help of the “Dragon” spacecraft of the American company SpaceX. Earlier, Roscosmos announced that such an option was considered, but was rejected.
On December 15, 2022, the outer shell of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft’s thermal control system heatsink depressurized, possibly after a micrometeorite impact. After analyzing the situation, a Russian state commission decided to disconnect and return the damaged Soyuz MS-22 to Earth in unmanned mode.
As a result, the crew of cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev, Dmitry Petelin and astronaut Frank Rubio, whose mission was extended, is due to return to Earth on the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft in a few months instead of making the pre-accident planned return in March.
Meanwhile, the pre-flight tests of the Soyuz MS-23 began on Wednesday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, reported the Energy Rocket and Space Corporation, quoted by TASS.
“In the technical complex on site 254 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the final stage of the ground preparation of the manned transport spacecraft “Soyuz MS-23” for an automatic flight to the International Space Station (ISS), from where it will pick up and return to Earth the crew of the damaged its predecessor, the corporation announced.
It is noted that the vessel will have to undergo comprehensive electrical tests, as well as preparation for leak tests.
The launch of Soyuz MS-23 to the ISS is scheduled for February 20.
The state corporation Roscosmos plans to undock and land the damaged Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft one to two weeks after the arrival of the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft at the ISS, Sergei Krikalyov explained on Wednesday.
“We expect that we will prepare and send the damaged Soyuz to Earth a week or two after the arrival of the new ship,” he said, stressing that the landing of the crashed ship was planned in a regular area on the territory of Kazakhstan.
The head of the US ISS program, Joel Montalbano, said on Wednesday that he arrived in Moscow to discuss the situation with the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft accident.
“I’m in Moscow this week with Sergey (Krikalov, note ed.) and his team. Earlier today we had a meeting of the state commission together on the next steps regarding the 68th expedition to the ISS,” he said in a telephone press conference.
“NASA and Roscosmos are working together to investigate this incident,” Montalbano added. He also said that the representatives of NASA agree with the conclusions of Roscosmos specialists regarding the causes of the incident with damage to the lining of the instrument and assembly compartment of “Soyuz MS-22”.
“We intend to get additional images, but at the moment we are in agreement with Roscosmos,” Montalbano stressed, answering the relevant question. Earlier, Roscosmos CEO Yuriy Borisov told reporters that the radiator of the Soyuz MS-22 cooling system was damaged as a result of a sporadic impact by a meteorite, and the version of its technical failure has not been confirmed.
“NASA will adjust flight plans for the International Space Station, taking into account the incident with the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft and its consequences,” said Joel Montalbano, adding: “In the coming weeks, NASA, in cooperation with Russian partners, will plan the flight schedule for the next few months.”
“The crew in space is ready to accept whatever decision we make here,” the NASA representative said, then joked, “I might have to send them some more ice cream to reward them.”
“The launch of the Crew-6 mission with the next team of American astronauts to work on the ISS is still planned for February,” Montalbano said.
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