Russia’s Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft began leaking coolant Wednesday evening while docked at the International Space Station (ISS).
The outer skin of the instrument and assembly compartment was damaged, according to Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.
Fortunately, the crew was unharmed, and they resumed normal operations. NASA stated in a blog post that the “suspected leak source is the Soyuz’s external radiator cooling loop.”
Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin were already dressed for a nearly seven-hour spacewalk when they noticed low-pressure readings. The cosmonauts’ walk was postponed indefinitely and they were not exposed to the coolant.
“Roscosmos is closely monitoring Soyuz spacecraft temperatures, which remain within acceptable limits,” NASA said. “NASA and Roscosmos continue to coordinate external imagery and inspection plans to aid in evaluating the external leak location.” The crew plans to investigate further using the station’s robotic arm.
On September 21st, the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft lifted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, carrying two cosmonauts and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio.
According to the Russian space agency, “a decision will be made” about the cosmonauts’ future aboard the ISS. A spacewalk scheduled for December 21 has been postponed indefinitely while the investigation is ongoing.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has (to put it mildly) complicated the relationship between NASA and Roscosmos. Russia announced earlier this year that it would leave the ISS after 2024 and focus on launching its own space station.
Although removing Russia from the ISS would severely disrupt the program, the US reportedly had contingency plans in place even before the invasion.