The International Space Station Is Leaking Again
Yet another Russian spacecraft has experienced an unexpected leak while docked at the International Space Station.
While folks on Earth have been treated to a surge of UFO speculation, new drama has unfolded in space. Just two months after a Russian space vehicle sprung an unexpected leak at the International Space Station, a similar incident has struck yet another Russian spacecraft. As reported by The Byte, Russia’s Progress MS-21 (identified by NASA as Progress 82) began leaking coolant while docked to the ISS.
The Progress 82 docked at the International Space Station in October 2022. The unmanned vessel was sent with supplies for the crew working on the station, and has since been filled with trash to be burnt up in the atmosphere. Just as another vessel, Progress 83, docked with more supplies, Progress 82’s leak began.
Russian Mission Control measured a pressure drop in the vessel’s coolant loop on February 11, 2023. This drop in pressure could spell danger for the crew aboard the International Space Station, but NASA calmed concerns in a statement:
“The hatches between the Progress 82 and the station are open, and temperatures and pressures aboard the station are all normal. The crew, which was informed of the cooling loop leak, is in no danger and continuing with normal space station operations.”-NASA
But it wasn’t all good news for the crew aboard the International Space Station. Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, along with astronaut Frank Rubio, were scheduled to leave the ISS on February 20, but were delayed until March 10. With another leak for ground control to investigate, the crew may be stranded on the ISS even longer.
NASA and Russia’s space program, Roscosmos, have begun their investigation of the coolant leak on the Progress 82. No conclusions have been drawn about the cause of the leak on either the Progress 82 or on the Soyuz MS-22 in December. The prevailing theory is that a micrometeorite may have struck the vehicles while they were docked at the International Space Station; no connection has been drawn between the incidents, coloring the frequency of the leaks as a coincidence.
Progress 82 was scheduled to depart the International Space Station on February 17. It would then burn up in the atmosphere and be disposed of over the Pacific Ocean. The routine procedure was interrupted by the leak, causing costly delays for Roscosmos, NASA, and the ISS crew.
Though the crew members aboard the International Space Station are safe at this time, the consequences of this series of leaks are still unfolding. The incidents serve as sobering reminders of the dangers of space exploration and just how unexpectedly things can go wrong. More optimistic, the ensuing investigations of the leaks, and all the operations at the ISS, mark international cooperation at a time of political tension.
As NASA and Roscosmos do their diligence for the greater good, the rest of the world is reminded that the International Space Station is not a toy. The ISS looks to host Tom Cruise and a film crew as the filmmakers endeavor to produce the first movie shot in space. Malfunctions like the recent coolant leaks are warning signs for all involved to proceed with great caution.
While professionals look to resolve the leaky vessels at the International Space Station, the world can heave a sigh of relief. The crew aboard the station may be extending their stay, but they are safe, and the folks at NASA and Roscosmos are doing all they can to keep it that way.