At a time when we are witnessing the increase in tension between the United States and Russia, after the Kremlin recently decided to suspend Russian participation in the New START nuclear arms control treaty, this week there was an example of international collaboration on the part of both countries. The stage, the space.
rescue mission. This morning the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft took off from the Baikonur space base (Kazakhstan), destined to bring back from the International Space Station, ISS in its acronym in English, the Russian astronauts Sergei Prokopiev and Dimtri Petelin and the American cosmonaut Frank Blond. The aircraft should reach the station next Sunday.
Problems to return. Prokópiev, Petelin and Rubio took off from Earth in the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft last September to start a space mission that was initially supposed to last six months. However, the return plan was altered due to the detection in December of a leak in the refrigeration system caused by the impact of a micrometeroid.
At the worst time. The discovery of this leak happened “at a bad time,” Vladimir Solovyov, director of the Russian segment of the International Space Station and the design department of manned space systems of the Roscosmos agency, recently stated.
Good luck. The veteran cosmonaut explained that on the day of the return, they had an exit into free space, and just when everything was ready, the cameras detected a liquid leak from the Soyuz MS-22. He also noted in conversations with Ruptly that they were “very lucky” that the micrometeroid that hit the ship was small.
Too risky. After analyzing the situation and carrying out various tests with a similar device, the Russian space agency concluded that the return trip to Earth in the Soyuz MS-22 was too dangerous since, due to the lack of refrigerant, the temperature of the ship could quickly reach 60 or 70 degrees.
Another problem. For this reason they decided to send the Soyuz MS-23, an unmanned ship that cannot be remote controlled, to be occupied by the three astronauts. However, on February 14, Roscosmos detected another similar leak on the Progress MS-21 cargo ship. According to El País, the agency decided to postpone the launch of the Soyuz MS-23 rescue ship until it determined “the reason for this emergency situation.”
NASA Collaboration. Finally, the Soyuz MS-23 took off this morning at the cosmodrome in the Kazakh city of Baikonur, under the watchful eye of two senior NASA officials. The device, which travels in automatic mode, will arrive on Sunday at the International Space Station and will perform the docking maneuver on the first or second attempt, Solovyov recently said.
The return home. Subsequently, the cosmonauts, whose mission has been extended for another year according to the Associated Press, will unload the provisions contained in the rescue ship and load the damaged Soyuz MS-22 with discarded material, which will remain at the station until the end of March.
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