February 7, 2023

Soyuz spacecraft ISS springs attached to coolant leak


A planned space mission by Russian space agency Roscosmos has been halted following the discovery of a coolant leak from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft currently docked at the International Space Station.

NASA’s Rob Navias, speaking on a NASA television broadcast Wednesday evening, called it a “very significant” leak. Live images during the broadcast showed fluid leaking from the Soyuz. Navias said the spill occurred around 7:45 pm on Wednesday.

The Soyuz spacecraft is docked in the Russian section of the space station. The Soyuz’s external radiator cooling loop is suspected to be the source of the leak, a step Upgrade Thursday afternoon from NASA.

The crew is safe, and all systems of the space station and ship are operating normally, Roscosmos said in a Russian-language statement on Twitter Thursday morning. (CNN translated the report.) Navias also said the astronauts inside the space station were “in no danger.”

“The crew reported that the warning device of the ship’s diagnostic system malfunctioned, indicating a decrease in pressure in the cooling system,” according to Roscosmos. “A visual inspection confirmed the leak, after which the decision was made to disrupt additional vehicle operations planned by ISS Russian Wing crew members Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitry Betlin.”

Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikhina used a camera on Russia’s Nauka module on the space station to “photograph and film the outer surface of the spacecraft,” according to Roscosmos. “The data has been sent back to Earth, and experts have already begun analyzing the images.”

Russian managers looked at the data and consulted with “both NASA managers and engineers” as well as outside experts, Navias said.

NASA said it will continue to gather more information about the leak.

“Plans are underway for additional exploration of the Soyuz exterior using the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm,” according to a statement NASA update.

Soyuz MS-22 carried NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and two Russian cosmonauts to the space station on September 21 and is scheduled to bring them back to Earth in late March.

Astronauts Rubio and Josh Cassada are scheduled for a NASA spacewalk to install a solar array outside the space station on Monday. Meanwhile, the Russian spacewalk scheduled for December 21 has been postponed indefinitely.