Officials indicated that the spacecraft may be ready for flight without crew sometime in February, just a few weeks after the crew returns in March.
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, along with a pair of astronauts will be part of the crew that will fly home on the rescue vehicle. Sergey ProkopievAnd the Dmitry PetlinThey arrived at the station in September.
Wayne Hill, a former NASA administrator and manager of the space shuttle program, stated that he cannot recall any other time when Roscosmos or NASA had to think about sending another spacecraft to bring back a crew.
As a pair of astronauts prepared to leave the station for a spacewalk on December 14, NASA and Roscosmos ground controllers noticed a coolant leak coming from the Soyuz capsule.
Roscosmos quickly cancelled the spacewalk. After inspecting the vehicle with the robotic arm of the station, they discovered that the leak was caused by an external cooling line. This cooling line is used to maintain the capsule’s temperature while it transports its crews through space into the vacuum of outer space.
NASA released a statement last week stating that “none crew members aboard the station were under threat” and that all crew members continued their normal operations throughout the day. She added, “The images and data are being analyzed by Roscosmos. Roscosmos also closely monitors temperatures on the Soyuz spacecraft to ensure they remain within acceptable limits. NASA and Roscosmos continue to work together on the course of action after ongoing analysis.”
Joel Montalbano from NASA, the NASA space station manager, stated that no coolant has ever contaminated the space station. The astronauts on board are still performing science experiments, including tomato growing.
The source of the leakage is unknown. Montalbano suggested that possible causes include a failure of the instruments on the rover, or damage from a piece or meteorite.
NASA cancelled Wednesday’s spacewalk to install an improved solar array. A piece of debris was expected within a quarter-mile of the station. Crews maneuvered to avoid debris, and the spacewalk has been rescheduled for Thursday.
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