Russia Is Preparing A Rescue Spacecraft To The ISS To Pick Up Its Crew

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Soyuz MS-22 crew ship docked to Rassvet module. The Nauka multifunctional laboratory module is seen docked to the Prichal docking module in the backdrop. A nod to NASA for this one. After determining the source of a coolant leak on the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft connected to the ISS, NASA and Roscosmos are making changes to the ISS mission plan.

To revise future flight dates, NASA will collaborate with Roscosmos, its Commercial Crew Program, and its Canadian, Japanese, and European partners over the next few weeks. In case of an emergency on the station before the arrival of Soyuz MS-23, NASA is also in talks with SpaceX about the prospect of deploying the Personnel-5 spacecraft to retrieve extra crew.

On Wednesday, January 11, NASA and Roscosmos held a joint media conference to discuss the inquiry and provide an update on the current situation of the Soyuz and the next steps being taken. Roscosmos engineers concluded that the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft cannot be used for a routine crew return, although it can be used in an emergency to bring crew members back to the space station. On Monday, February 20th, the unmanned spacecraft Soyuz MS-23 will travel to the space station in lieu of the Soyuz MS-22. Frank Rubio of NASA, Sergey Prokopyev of the cosmonaut crew, and Dmitri Petelin of the Russian space program will take the replacement Soyuz back to Earth after spending many more months onboard the station.

At the same time, NASA and SpaceX are set to fly the Crew-6 mission shortly after the Soyuz MS-23 flight, with the aforementioned manifest adjustments already in place. Still, NASA hopes to have a seamless transition from the Crew-5 to Crew-6 missions. On December 14, 2022, ground personnel discovered considerable leakage of external coolant from the aft segment of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft attached to the Rassvet module on the space station. Soyuz blasted out from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome on September 21 with astronauts Prokopyev, Petelin, and Rubio aboard.

Wednesday was dominated by spacesuit use, eye scans, and cargo transfers onboard the International Space Station. There was even time for space gardening and servicing of scientific equipment for the seven-person crew of Expedition 68. The three NASA astronauts, Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, and Frank Rubio, worked together all day to maintain two spacesuits, or Extravehicular Mobility Units (EMUs), by cleaning cooling loops, monitoring water, and inserting batteries. Later, Mann worked with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata to get the space station ready for the fourth roll-out solar array, which would require a spacewalk.

In the afternoon, Cassada worked on servicing research samples to aid a study looking at the treatment of bone wounds and ailments in both terrestrial and extraterrestrial environments. Before tending to the Veg-05 space botany study’s tomato plants, Rubio set up a pair of laptop computers from the Human Research Facility. Wakata serviced the Confocal space microscope, which captures fluorescence images of biological material, by replacing cables and light components.

Before having lunch, the four astronauts used the Ultrasound 2 instrument in the Columbus lab module to do brief eye exams. In order to study the effects of long-term weightlessness on the human eye, pictures of the cornea, lens, optic nerve, and retina are taken during routine checkups.

Both Commander Sergey Prokopyev and Flight Engineer Dmitri Petelin were busy inside two separate Progress space freighters, moving supplies in and out of the ships and updating the station’s inventory management system. When Petelin was inspecting the optical hardware and interfaces, Prokopyev was busy working on the life support equipment. Anna Kikina, a flight engineer, set up and photographed electrical components before installing radiation detectors in various locations around the space station.

Last night at 5:19 a.m. EST on January 11, 2023, the SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle successfully splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, concluding its station resupply mission. Around 4,400 pounds of lab equipment and scientific cargo were sent down to Earth by the unmanned Dragon for retrieval and examination by engineers and researchers.

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