A report suggests that NASA may use a SpaceX spacecraft to rescue three space station crew members depending on a leaking Soyuz to get home.
the Soyuz spacecraft On the International Space Station It had a severe coolant leak on December 15th A decision as to whether it is safe to return the crew to Earth will come on that in januaryRussia said. If a Soyuz rescue vehicle was needed, it could just come in febtwo or three weeks before the normal change in March.
Looks like NASA is considering using SpaceXthe only company currently flying astronauts into space from US soil, as a backup if those options don’t work out.
“We’ve asked SpaceX some questions about their ability to return additional crew members on Dragon if needed, but that’s not our primary focus at this time,” NASA spokeswoman Sandra Jones said. He said in a statement to Reuters (Opens in a new tab), posted Wed (December 28). SpaceX did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
NASA did not explain to Reuters what options are possible with SpaceX, such as whether the company could launch a backup crew. the Dragon spacecraft to pick up the crew, or add more seats to an existing dragon (named Endeavor) docked at the space station.
All seats on Endeavor are nominally full, as it is supposed to carry the crew home in early 2023, including NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Kasada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos astronaut Anna Kikina.
The crew that was using the infected Soyuz, called MS-22, includes Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin, and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, each of whom came to space wearing a Russian Sokol spacesuit. Typically, SpaceX only launches crew members who are equipped for a A custom-made SpaceX spacesuit. How to overcome this problem is also not addressed in the report.
The cause of the leak aboard Soyuz MS-22 has not yet been determined, but it could have originated from space debris or micrometeorites that cannot be traced due to its small size. Subsequent scans of Soyuz showed A hole in the external radiator.
The ISS crew is not in direct danger from the situation, but the concern comes if the complex must be evacuated for any reason, as at present it is possible that there may not be three individuals who do not have a safe journey home.
Elizabeth Howell is co-author of “Why am I taller (Opens in a new tab)? (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book on space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @employee (Opens in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @employee (Opens in a new tab) or Facebook (Opens in a new tab).