The Soyuz rocket belonging to Roscosmos experienced a coolant system leak on December 14. The incident resulted in the cancellation of a spacewalk and created a dilemma for both NASA and the Russian space agency. In April, cosmonauts Sergey Prokopeyev and Dmitri Petelin as well as astronaut Frank Rubio were scheduled to return to Earth using that spacecraft. Now what?
Joel Montalbano, the director of the International Space Station (ISS) Program at NASA, and Sergei Krikalev, the executive director of the Human Space Flight Programs at Roscosmos, discussed options during a press conference.
On the vehicle, many kinds of analysis are being done. Investigations are being conducted to determine whether the hole, which was discovered earlier this week, was caused by a micrometeoroid striking the spacecraft. Alternatively, space debris or a hardware malfunction might have been to blame. The thermal analysis, which will determine how warm it would become inside the cabin, will provide crucial information for the Soyuz MS-22’s viability.
This Soyuz will be sent back to Earth empty and a replacement will be despatched in its place if things become unsafe. The Soyuz flight that was originally scheduled for mid-March would need to be moved up a few weeks and launched without crew in order to replace MS-22.
Russia previously said that it would stop participating in the ISS after 2024. This decision came as a result of the international sanctions put in place as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.