Illustration photo – International Space Station (ISS).
Moscow – The Russian space agency Roskomos will send a Soyuz rescue ship to the International Space Station (ISS) on February 24. According to AFP, Roskomos announced this today. Soyuz MS-23 is a replacement craft for the damaged Soyuz MS-22, which was supposed to deliver two Russian cosmonauts and one American astronaut from Earth orbit in March. Their mission will be extended until the summer or fall due to the incident.
Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio were to use the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft to return to Earth in March. However, a micrometeorite hit it in December, and Russian officials concluded that higher temperatures inside the ship due to a coolant leak could make it unsafe to use. They therefore decided to launch a new Soyuz MS-23 ship so that the crew would have a rescue craft available in case of an emergency. But it will travel empty to speed up the launch, so the next crew will have to wait until the end of summer or autumn before the next ship is ready.
Prokopjev, Petelin and Rubio will therefore have to stay on the station for a few months longer, possibly extending their mission by almost a year. American NASA participated in all discussions and agreed to this plan.
Roskosmos stated February 20 as the original launch date for Soyuz MS-23. It is unclear whether the change of date to February 24 has any connection with the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which falls on the same day.
Not long after the micrometeorite incident, Roskomos reported a malfunction on its Progress supply ship in January MS-21, which was docked to the ISS without a crew when it suddenly lost cabin pressure. The announcement came on February 11 shortly after the new Russian cargo ship Progress MS-22 docked smoothly at the ISS, carrying nearly three tons of food, water and fuel along with scientific equipment to the crew.
In addition to Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubia is the space station now also home to NASA astronauts Nicole Anuapu Mann and Josh Cassada, Russia's Anna Kikin, and Japan's Koichi Wakata. This foursome was transported to the ISS last October by SpaceX's Crew Dragon.