NASA has inquired about using a SpaceX Dragon capsule to bring astronauts home from the International Space Station (ISS) after a recent leak in a Russian Soyuz capsule, a NASA blog post said. .
Soyuz spacecraft MS-22 on December 15, 2022 a significant coolant leak was encountered While docked at the ISS just before a planned Russian spacewalk. While the leaky Soyuz poses no immediate threat to the space station or its crew, it remains unknown whether the Soyuz craft is airworthy; As such, in the event of an emergency the MS-22 crew no longer had a viable lifeboat.
Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio are reviewing available options, including one in SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, in an effort to potentially secure an alternative lifeboat for NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Inquiring about using one of the A replacement for the Soyuz MS-22.
“As part of the analysis, NASA reached out to SpaceX about its ability to return additional crew members aboard Dragon if needed in an emergency, although the primary focus remains the leak of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft.” is on understanding the capabilities of the latter.”Space Agency Wrote in the blog post of 30 December (opens in new tab),
related: Rescue Soyuz spacecraft may not reach International Space Station until February
A previous report published by Reuters said the same, but NASA’s blog post has confirmed that the agency is indeed considering using the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as an ISS lifeboat. “We have asked SpaceX some questions on their ability to return additional crew members on Dragon, but that is not our main focus at this time,” NASA spokeswoman Sandra Jones said. said in a statement to Reuters Published last Wednesday (28 December).
Another option is for Roscosmos to send a replacement Soyuz craft. But the earliest such mission can be launched February will beAccording to statements made by Sergei Krikalev, head of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow, during a livestreamed NASA press conference on Dec. 22. “Our next crew … was supposed to fly in mid-March,” Krikalev said, adding that, at the earliest, a new Soyuz “could be sent a little earlier … about two, three weeks at the most.” We can at this point.”
Roscosmos is still investigate the cause of the leak and plans to release its findings this month. Russian state news agency TASS reported on 27 December that the leak “was caused by”external mechanical damage (opens in new tab),” although it is unknown whether the culprit was a meteorite or space debris.
Whatever the cause of the leak, the damaged Soyuz spacecraft presented a significant safety concern for the MS-22 crew, Rubio, Petelin and Prokopyev. Tommaso Sgoba, executive director of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS) and former head of spaceflight safety at the European Space Agency, told Space.com that Leaky Soyuz is a big risk, “This will probably be the first time the space station doesn’t have full lifeboat capability,” Sgoba said. “That’s my personal feeling, but if it’s true, then we have a big problem on the space station. We’re missing the crew escape system.”
A potential hindrance to using the Dragon as a lifeboat is the spacesuits worn by the crew of the MS-22; SpaceX capsule is designed to work in conjunction with custom made spacex spacesuitWhile the MS-22 crew entered the ISS wearing Russian Sokol spacesuits.
SpaceX has yet to issue any comment regarding the possibility of sending a Dragon capsule to the ISS to replace the stricken Soyuz MS-22.