For the second time in two months, a Russian spacecraft docked to the International Space Station (ISS) has leaked.
Mission controllers in Moscow noticed “a depressurization” on the Progress 82 robotic cargo ship, Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos announced on Saturday. (opens in new tab) (February 11).
The depressurization occurred in the Progress vehicle’s cooling system, NASA officials said.
“The reason for the loss of coolant on the Progress 82 spacecraft is being investigated. The hatches between Progress 82 and the station are open, and temperatures and pressures aboard the station are normal,” NASA officials wrote in a blog post. on Saturday. (opens in new tab). “The crew, who have been informed of the cooling circuit leak, are in no danger and are continuing normal space station operations.”
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Progress 82 arrived at the ISS on October 28, 2022 and was scheduled to depart on February 17. It’s unclear if the freighter will still depart on that date or if mission controllers will keep it longer than originally planned to continue the leak investigation. . (Progress vehicles are designed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere when their missions are over, so engineers won’t be able to examine the vehicle on the ground.)
Coincidentally, the depressurization was noticed on the same day that another Russian freighter, Progress 83, arrived at the orbiting laboratory. Progress 83 docked successfully early Saturday morning, unaffected by the difficulties of her sister ship.
The Progress 82 leak comes on the heels of a similar incident involving the Russian MS-22 Soyuz spacecraft, which carried three astronauts to the International Space Station in September and was due to take them home again in March.
But Soyuz MS-22 leaked all of its coolant on Dec. 14, a dramatic event that Russian mission controllers eventually blamed on an apparent micrometeoroid strike. The vehicle is now unfit to carry astronauts, except in an emergency aboard the ISS, so Roscosmos plans to launch another Soyuz later this month to replace it.
This Soyuz replacement, known as the MS-23, will launch without a crew. It will bring the MS-22 crew — NASA cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev and Frank Rubio — back to Earth, likely in late September.
That’s the current plan anyway. It is unclear at this time whether Roscosmos and the space station’s other partners will adjust it, perhaps to allow more time to conduct a Progress leak investigation and consider the implications of its results.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). follow us @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab), Facebook (opens in new tab) It is Instagram (opens in new tab).