Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: A Russian spacecraft is endangering lives aboard the International Space Station.
In yet another black eye to Moscow’s space program, the Soyuz-22 capsule that’s attached to the ISS sprung a massive coolant leak shortly before a spacewalk by Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin was set to commence. The uncontrolled leak lasted more than three hours before it eventually stopped after running out of fluid.
A NASA spokesperson told The Daily Beast on Thursday that they were “expecting more updates later this morning” and provided no further comment. The ground team at the Russian Roscosmos space program are assessing the damage in order to uncover the full impact of the leak to the Soyuz craft.
“Russian flight controllers and the flight controllers here at mission control in Houston have been noticing a stream of particles coming out of the Soyuz MS-22 vehicle that is attached to the Rassvet module on the Earth-facing side of the Russian segment of the International Space Station,” Rob Navias, NASA’s mission commentator, said on the agency’s live feed of the spacewalk.
The two cosmonauts were suited up and waiting in the depressurized airlock when flight controllers called the mission off due to the leak. They had planned to move a radiator from the Rassvet module over to the Nauka science module when the damage was spotted.
In a later update, NASA stated that “crew members aboard the space station are safe, and were not in any danger during the leak.” However, the leak will no doubt call into question the long term viability of the Soyuz spacecraft. The coolant might also hinder or even damage exterior equipment on the ISS, though chances of that happening are fairly low.
To say this is a bad look for the Russian spacecraft would be understating it. At this point, if something goes wrong on the ISS, you can bet on it being due to the Soyuz in one form or another. From mysterious holes being drilled into it, to life-threatening malfunctions during launch, to misfiring thrusters and sending the ISS into a tailspin, there’s been no shortage of mishaps due to the Soyuz crafts.
And while the astronauts aboard the ISS remain cooperative and even friendly, things between Russian and U.S. space programs have been as cold as the vacuum of space—much of it due to the bloviating threats fired off by former Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin—and has only been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This recent leaking debacle will no doubt add to that.
Hopefully, they’ll figure out the reason behind the hiccup soon. Needless to say, though, the new replacement space station for the ISS can’t come soon enough.