MOSCOW (AP) — A coolant leak from a Russian space capsule attached to the International Space Station was likely caused by a micrometeorite impact, a Russian space official said Thursday.
The Russian space corporation Roscosmos and NASA have said the incident has not posed any danger to the station’s crew.
Sergei Krikalev, a veteran cosmonaut who serves as director of human spaceflight programs at Roscosmos, said the coolant leak from the Soyuz MS-22 capsule could have been caused by a meteor hitting one of its radiators. Krikalev said in a statement that the malfunction could affect the performance of the capsule’s cooling system and the temperature in the capsule’s equipment section, but does not endanger the crew.
The coolant leak caused a pair of Russian cosmonauts to abort a planned spacewalk earlier that day.
Krikalev said that Russian flight controllers were continuing to assess the situation and monitor temperature indicators on Soyuz, but stressed that “there have been no other changes to the parameters of the Soyuz spacecraft and the station, so there is no threat to crew”.
Krikalev added, however, that the station’s future operations will depend on the evaluation of the condition of the capsule. “Decisions about the future flight schedule will be made on the basis of that analysis,” he said.
“NASA and Roscosmos will continue to work together to determine the next course of action following the ongoing analysis,” NASA said. “Crew members aboard the space station are safe and were not in danger during the escape.”
Just as Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin were about to venture out of the station on a planned spacewalk on Thursday, specialists on the ground saw a stream of fluid and particles on live video from space, along with a pressure drop in the instruments, emanating from the Soyuz capsule. Prokopyev, Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio used the capsule to reach the International Space Station in September and it serves as a lifeboat for the crew.
Along with them, four other crew members are currently on the space outpost: NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos.
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