Not good news: According the Russian news source TASS, Russian astronauts have pinpointed the location of the slow leak on ISS to ” a fracture in the intersection compartment of the Russian Zvezda module.”
The astronaut also called it a “scratch,” which means the fracture is not yet confirmed. They will do more testing to find out if this is the leak source in the coming days.
If it is a fracture, the ramifications could be very serious. It appears the “intersection compartment” is the area where the aft docking port is located, which is also the area where many Progress freighters have docked in the twenty years since Zvezda was launched. Thus, this could be a stress fracture that can only get bigger with time. Its location might also preclude further dockings at this port, limiting arrivals of future Progress cargo ships.
Fun fact: They pinpointed this location using a floating tea bag.
The tea bag’s sway in zero gravity conditions towards the air leak overboard the space station was registered by cameras, the cosmonaut said. “We believe that we have really identified the probable leakage area. We have distributed a tea bag [in the Zvezda module] before closing the transfer chamber,” Ivanishin said.
The tea bag’s movement was recorded, the Russian cosmonaut said.
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