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More leaks found in Russian Zvezda module on ISS

Earlier this week Russian astronauts located and patched three more leaks in the 20+ year old Russian Zvezda module on ISS.

Prior to this week’s discovery, the recent patching done by Russian astronauts had reduced the air loss by about half. They need to do another seal test of Zvezda to see if these newer patches have reduced it further.

The report at the link from Russia is as usual very vague. No photos of any of the leaks have been released, by either Russia or NASA. No cause either has been described. This lack of information suggests that the leaks represent a more systemic problem, possibly related to stress fractures from age and wear. If so, it also suggests that Zvezda is nearing its pull-date. How this central module will be replaced from the station remains a major mystery.

Above all, this puts some urgency to the launch of newer modules, such as those being built by the private company Axiom.

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From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
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The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

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9 comments

  • David Eastman

    Photos of the cracks have been leaked, but as far as I can tell, not officially released anywhere. The only ones I’ve seen are reposts in a non-public area, so I can’t share, but they certainly look like stress fractures to me.

  • Jay

    David,
    Since you cannot share the photos, can you please tell us if all the cracks are or around the aft docking port?

  • David Eastman

    The pictures I saw were the result of very close up microscopic shots, if there was any indication of where in the module they were taken, it was in Cyrillic, which I don’t read.

  • David Eastman: All public statements so far have strongly suggested (but not confirmed) the cracks were in the aft section of Zvezda, where the docking port is.

  • pawn

    What is the history of the (re)boosting. I know the Zvezda module initially was used as it has a propulsive system but I remember reading that (re)boosting was being done by visiting craft. Were these (re)boosts done through the suspected aft section docking port?

    I’m sure NASA will get nothing but obfuscation from the Russians so they won’t try too hard to get to the bottom of this. Maybe Congress can make some useful noise for once.

  • pawn: From what I understand, Zvezda has engines and has been used routinely to raise ISS’s orbit. And yes, those engines are in the aft section, surrounding the docking port.

    As for the Russians hiding things, they might be hiding things from the public, but I am certain they are not hiding things from NASA, which has people on board ISS and will demand to know what’s what. NASA however is a government agency, like Roscosmos, and is thus prone to the same secrecy. In fact, I am sure NASA and Roscosmos are working together to keep this whole story out of the press.

    As for Congress, don’t make me laugh.

  • Star Bird

    Russia has a Space Shuttle they stole it from us

  • mkent

    Pawn: You are correct. The reboost engines are in the aft section of the Service Module. They are used whenever a Progress vehicle is not docked to that port. However, when a Progress vehicle is docked to that port, they use the Progress engines instead. This is because 1) The Progress is blocking the Service Module’s engines, and 2) It saves cycles on the Service Module’s engines, extending their on-orbit life.

  • David Telford

    This is becoming alarming: I do hope this lingering, slow motion problem doesn’t ease us into catastrophe.

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