• Mon. Feb 27th, 2023

Russia sends rescue mission to International Space Station

ByGurinderbir Singh

Feb 24, 2023

Russia has launched an uncrewed Soyuz spacecraft on a rescue mission to return two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut who are stranded in space.

The three International Space Station (ISS) crew were due to return on their own Soyuz, but it has been damaged by a mini meteorite.

The rescue Soyuz MS-23 vessel blasted off successfully from the Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday.

MS-23, which took off on Friday, was initially scheduled to launch in mid-March with two cosmonauts and an astronaut on board, who would take over from Rubio, Petelin and Prokopyev at the space station.

But without the replacement crew on board MS-23, the two Russians and the US crew member will now continue working at the ISS until September.

Officials determined that it was too risky to bring the three back in their damaged Soyuz MS-22 next month as originally planned.

With no coolant, the cabin temperature would spike during the trip back to Earth, potentially damaging computers and other equipment, and exposing the suited-up crew to excessive heat.

NASA said in a statement that the damaged Soyuz MS-22 is scheduled to undock from the ISS in late March and return to Earth “for an uncrewed parachute-assisted landing in Kazakhstan, and post-flight analysis by Roscosmos” – Russia’s space agency.

After delivering people to the space station, capsules stay attached to the orbiting research lab throughout the duration of missions, in case of any emergencies and to eventually ferry their crews home to Earth.

In addition to the three crew awaiting the arrival of MS-23, there are also four others currently on the ISS after arriving on a SpaceX Dragon capsule last October as part of the Crew-5 mission.

They are scheduled to be joined next week by members of the Crew-6 mission – two US nationals, an Emirati and a Russian – who will also arrive on board a SpaceX capsule expected to launch on Monday from Florida. After a few days of overlap, Crew-5 will then return to Earth.

Space has remained a rare venue of cooperation between Moscow and Washington since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine and ensuing Western sanctions on Russia.

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