a rescue plan with SpaceX is mentioned

On December 14, a spaceship leaked coolant Soyuz MS-22 has been discovered. It originates from a 0.8 mm diameter hole which could be caused by the impact of a micrometeorite or space debris. The trail of a hardware failure is also not excluded.

Soyuz MS-22 is docked with the International Space Station (ISS) and should theoretically be the return solution to Earth next March for three of the seven current occupants of the ISS. The integrity of the ship for this transport of two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut appears compromised.

However, evaluations are ongoing. Thermal analyzes will determine whether the interior of the cabin can be compatible or not with receiving a crew. The Russian space agency Roscosmos is now expected to make a final decision in January next year.

Soyuz or Crew Dragon?

If necessary, e.g. dispatch of a rescue vessel. It would be a matter of advancing the launch of the next Soyuz to February, that is, two to three weeks earlier than planned. Except that Soyuz MS-23 would arrive at the ISS without a crew on board.

The damaged Soyuz MS-22 would perform an atmospheric reentry and an unmanned return to Earth, knowing that a test of its thrusters produced nominal results.

However, Reuters reports that the US space agency is also considering a backup plan that would involve SpaceX in case a Soyuz launch is not possible. By remembering that a capsule SpaceX’s Crew Dragon (Crew-5) is anchored to the ISS and can accommodate four people.


The ambiguity remains for the moment

We asked SpaceX a few questions about theirs possibility to deploy additional crew members on Dragon if needed, but that’s not our main focus right now “, only a NASA spokeswoman responded.

It is not clear whether NASA’s question is about the possibility of increasing the crew capacity of Dragon Crew-5 or with the launch of an empty craft to rescue the crew. There may be problems with spacesuits and seats to manage.

A situation that is not far from becoming a bit of a headache, especially since the Russian space agency certainly does not want to risk losing face… even though the International Space Station is supposed to be well above such considerations.

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