Moscow: A coolant leak from a Russian space capsule attached to the International Space Station was likely caused by a micrometeorite strike, a Russian space official said.
Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos and NASA both have said that the incident hasn’t posed any danger to the station’s crew. However, the leak prompted a pair of Russian cosmonauts to abort a planned spacewalk earlier in the day.
Sergei Krikalev, a veteran cosmonaut who serves as the director of crewed space flight programs at Roscosmos, said on Thursday that a meteorite striking one of the radiators of the Soyuz MS-22 capsule could have caused the coolant to escape.
The malfunction could affect the performance of the capsule’s coolant system and the temperature in the equipment section of the capsule but doesn’t endanger the crew, Krikalev said in a statement.
Krikalev said Russian flight controllers were assessing the situation and following temperature indicators on the Soyuz. “There have been no other changes in parameters on the Soyuz spacecraft and the station, so there is no threat for the crew,” he said.
As Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin were about to venture outside the station on a planned spacewalk on Thursday, ground specialists saw a stream of fluid and particles on a live video feed from space, along with a pressure drop on instruments, emanating from the Soyuz capsule.
Prokopyev, Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio used the capsule to arrive at the International Space Station in September, and it serves as a lifeboat for the crew.
Krikalev said the station’s future operations would depend on an assessment of the capsule’s condition. “Decisions about the future flight program will be made on the basis of that analysis,” he said.
“NASA and Roscosmos will continue to work together to determine the next course of action following the ongoing analysis,” NASA said. “The crew members aboard the space station are safe and were not in any danger during the leak.”
Along with Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio, four other crew members are currently on the space outpost: NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Koichi Wakata and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos.
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