Another Russian Roscosmos spacecraft leaked coolant while docked to the International Space Station (ISS). On February 11, NASA announced the Progress 82 cargo spacecraft leaked coolant. The vehicle has been docked to the ISS since October 2022. “The rendezvous and docking operations were conducted with no issues. Meanwhile, engineers at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow recorded a depressurization in the unpiloted Roscosmos Progress 82 cargo ship’s coolant loop, which is docked to the space-facing Poisk module at the station,” shared NASA in a press release.
"The reason for the loss of coolant in the Progress 82 spacecraft is being investigated. The hatches between the Progress 82 and the Station are open, and temperatures and pressures aboard the station are all normal. The crew, which was informed of the cooling loop leak, is in no danger and continuing with normal space station operations,” the agency stated. “NASA specialists are assisting their Russian counterparts in the troubleshooting of the Progress 82 coolant leak. Officials are monitoring all International Space Station systems and are not tracking any other issues.” Despite the growing global tensions due to the Russian-Ukraine war, the United States’ NASA agency and Russia’s Roscosmos maintain a diplomatic approach when working with astronauts at the Space Station. Progress 82 is scheduled to undock on Friday, February 17, to be deorbited over the Pacific Ocean. Cosmonauts will fill it up with trash that is no longer needed at the orbiting laboratory. The vehicle is expected to burn up in Earth’s rough atmosphere as it enters at high-speeds.
It is the second spacecraft to suffer a coolant leak in less than two months. On December 14, Roscosmos Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft leaked the fluid uncontrollably from a valve. It is unknown what caused the leaks, engineers believe it could be a micrometeoroid. Soyuz MS-22 transported Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dimitri Petelin, alongside United States NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who launched on Soyuz as part of a diplomatic barter agreement between Russia’s Roscosmos Space Agency and NASA. The trio has been working at the orbiting laboratory since September 2022 and their mission was scheduled to end by March 2023. However, the capsule’s coolant leak delayed their return to Earth; it is unclear how many more months they will stay at the ISS. They cannot return because the coolant was vital to regulating the Soyuz’s cabin high temperature upon atmospheric reentry. Russia had plans to launch a replacement Soyuz to bring the trio back this month, though with the second leak it delayed its plans to ensure the next spacecraft is safe.
Last month, NASA mentioned it is in discussions with SpaceX in case a Dragon spacecraft is ever needed to rescue the cosmonauts and astronauts working at the ISS. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft is also docked at the Space Station right now, alongside Progress 82 and Soyuz MS-22. On January 17, NASA Astronaut Frank Rubio followed the agency’s advice and proceeded to uninstall his Soyuz MS-22 seat and install it on Crew Dragon to be ready to escape in case there is an emergency that requires evacuation. Taking out a seat from Soyuz MS-22 also reduces the heat load which would allow the pair of Russian cosmonauts to use the capsule in the event of an emergency return to Earth. Dragon only four seats as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission which transported: NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina –who is the only female in Russia’s space corps and was also launched as part of the barter agreement. Crew-5 is scheduled to return around a week after Crew-6 arrives on February 27. [All launch and arrival dates are subject to change.]
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About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.