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Air leak in Russia’s half of ISS continues and has increased slightly

Zvezda module of ISS
The Zvezda module, with aft section indicated
where the cracks have been found.

The leak in the Russia half of ISS continues to bleed air from the space station and has even increased slightly in recent months, though both NASA and Roscosmos say the rate of loss is tiny and poses no danger to the station’s inhabitants.

“There is no threat to the crew or the station itself,” [Roscosmos] said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies. Roscosmos’ statement followed comments by Joel Montalbano, NASA’s station project manager, who noted Wednesday that the leak in the Russian segment has increased but emphasized that it remains small and poses no threat to the crew’s safety or vehicle operations.

As indicated by the graphic to the right, the air loss is suspected to come from stress fractures in the Zvezda module, the station’s second oldest and one in which many dockings have occurred over the past two decades. Russia had suspended dockings in this port shortly after the leaks and cracks were detected, but have apparently resumed those dockings recently. One wonders if this new activity is contributing to the increase in loss of air.

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  • Brewingfrog

    They could always toss a few cans of Flex-Seal into the next cargo capsule…

  • Concerned


    “I sawed this spaceship in half……..”

  • pzatchok

    The sad thing is they would not use a substance like that because the air scrubbers can not handle the stink given off by the chemicals.

  • Jason Lewis

    Stress cracks occur in aircraft wings (and other places), and there’s a whole field of engineering devoted to non-destructive measurements and safety criteria. Not all cracks are considered to be dangerous. However, cracks tend to grow incrementally with stress cycling, such as with repeated docking. Cracks cause stress concentrations at the crack tip, and the stress in these regions tends to increase as the crack length grows. At some point, the crack grows to some critical length where the stress at the crack tip to reaches a limit for the material. At this point, there can be catastrophic failure of the structure.

    With the Russian module, I don’t know what they know about these apparent cracks. Have they seen and measured them? Or have they just inferred their existence and location? I’m sure that I’m not alone in having a concern that there will eventually be a sudden and catastrophic structural failure of the module. I would assume that there is a lot more guesswork than with a highly studied structure like an aircraft wing.

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