NASA has inquired about using the SpaceX Dragon capsule to bring astronauts home from the International Space Station (ISS) after a recent leak aboard Russia’s Soyuz capsule, a NASA blog reported.
On December 15, 2022, the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft It had a major coolant leak while docked at the International Space Station ahead of a planned Russian spacewalk. While the Soyuz does not pose any immediate danger to the space station or its crew, it is still not known if the Soyuz is airworthy; As such, the MS-22 crew no longer had a viable lifeboat in case of an emergency.
In an effort to secure a replacement lifeboat for Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, NASA and Roscosmos are conducting a review of available options, which included inquiring with SpaceX about using one of its Dragon capsules. Replacement for Soyuz MS-22.
As part of the analysis, NASA has also reached out to SpaceX about its ability to return additional crew members aboard Dragon if needed in an emergency, although the primary focus is on understanding the post-spill capabilities of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, the space agency said. he wrote in a blog post on Dec. 30 (Opens in a new tab).
Related: The Soyuz rescue spacecraft can’t reach the International Space Station until February
An earlier report by Reuters said the same thing, but a NASA blog post confirms that the agency is, in fact, considering using the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as a lifeboat for the International Space Station. “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 Posted last Wednesday (December 28).
There is another option for Roscosmos to send a replacement Soyuz vehicle. But the closest such mission can be launched It will be FebruaryAccording to statements made by Sergei Krikalev, head of the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow, during a press conference broadcast by NASA on December 22. Adding that as soon as possible, a new Soyuz could be sent a little earlier…two or three weeks earlier than we can do at this point.
Roscosmos still Check the cause of the leak It plans to release its results this month. The Russian state news agency TASS reported on December 27 that the reason for the leak was “external mechanical damage (Opens in a new tab),” though it is not known if the culprit was a meteorite or space debris.
Whatever the cause of the leak, the damaged Soyuz spacecraft is a major safety concern for the MS-22 crew, Rubio, Petelin, and Prokopyev. Tommaso Sjoba, executive director of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Security (IAASS) and former head of spaceflight safety at the European Space Agency, told Space.com: A leaky Soyuz poses a huge risk. “It is likely that this is the first time that the space station does not have a full capacity to build a lifeboat,” said Sjuba. “It’s my personal feeling, but if this is true, then we have a huge problem on the space station. We’re missing the crew escape system.”
One potential drawback to using the Dragon as a lifeboat was the space suits that were worn by the MS-22 crew; SpaceX capsules are designed to work in tandem with SpaceX spacesuits are custom designedWhile the MS-22 crew blasted off to the International Space Station wearing Russian spacesuits from Sokol.
SpaceX has yet to comment on the possibility of sending a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station to replace the beleaguered Soyuz MS-22.
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