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New leak located in Zvezda on ISS

Russian astronauts have located the suspected new leak location in the Zvezda module on ISS, and also think there might be another, as yet unlocated.

The specialists have discovered one more crack at the International Space Station and suspect that yet another one exists, ISS Russian Segment head Vladimir Solovyov told Rossiya-24. “So far, we have found one place and suspect another, where as some kind of leak exists. We must bring a powerful microscope on a cargo spacecraft and use to examine this place. We are not totally certain so far,” Solovyov said.

These two leaks are in addition to the one inch crack that caused last year’s leak and has been sealed.

All are pointing strongly to stress fractures in this section of Zvezda, one of the station’s oldest modules at twenty-plus years. The leaks are apparently located in the aft section where ships dock to Zvezda, with over a 100 dockings there since launch.

If the cracks and leaks are caused by stress fractures, the life span of Zvezda is now quite limited. It might be possible to seal the cracks and protect the module from further breaks by ending dockings at its port, but I suspect that will not work. Moreover, if I remember correctly Zvezda has the engines that are used to periodically raise ISS’s orbits. If the stress of firing those engines is too risky than another way must be found to maintain the station’s orbit.

In a few years the private company Axiom will be launching its own modules to ISS, designed in the long run to separate from the station and function independently. If NASA and Axiom are smart, they will make sure this new module matches Zvezda’s capabilities, thus making the Russian module redundant and actually superfluous.

Pioneer cover

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.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
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.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

8 comments

  • Ray Van Dune

    SLSS… get on it, NASA.

  • David Eastman

    Cygnus recently demonstrated the capability to do a station boost, so we have a backup for Progress on that side. But the US/International docking nodes are “fore” on the station, so they have to flip the station around to boost from that side, as opposed to Zvezda, which is “aft”. I don’t know if there is any reason other than having Zvezda in that position for which way the station points, so potentially they could just flip it permanently and stop using Zvezda for that at all.

  • wayne

    Deep Space 9
    Ep:1 Se:1 Emissary
    “We’ll Move the Station, to the Wormhole
    https://youtu.be/R0zAClx7l3M
    2:00

  • Cluebat

    I wonder if there is some structural dynamics going on here and causing stress fractures. Maybe start installing sensors and collecting/monitoring data.

  • Cluebat

    Yeah, I should have read before posting. I see now that is what is suspected here.
    If it is something dynamic like that, we can correct it by installing dampers or flex couplings.
    Probably something to consider monitoring on all of these types of structures. Only take a few daqs and a little programming.

  • Mike Kimm

    First time commenter. As you all probable know everything seems weightless in microgravity but the mass still exists. When there is a lot of mass attached to these docking ports any small bump or thrust in the station will create a torque event at the coupler. That will flex the structure and eventually there will be cracks.

  • Milt

    Last night / this morning, Robert Bigelow really savaged NASA on Coast to Coast with guest host George Knapp. At the very end of his two hour interview, Bigelow — paraphrasing him as closely as I can remember — said that today’s NASA is not the same organization
    that sent people to the moon, and they have become little more than government bureaucrats who care nothing for the value of other people’s time, technology, or money.

    https://www.coasttocoastam.com/show/2021-01-24-show/

    Mr. Bigelow went on to explain that aside from having his industry leading R&D efforts squandered by NASA (and competitors apparently getting sweetheart deals using technology that they have “borrowed” from his firm), he has filed (or is filing) lawsuits against against the agency for nonpayment.

    Finally — a common theme, now — he expressed his frustration that if left to NASA, we will find Chinese settlements waiting for us on the Moon and Mars when Americans eventually arrive there.

    All in all, a devastating critique of the Never A Straight Answer agency by one of the true pioneers of the Second Space Age. At the very least, Mr. Bigelow’s remarks need to be widely publicized.

  • Edward

    Milt,
    Sadly, NASA is governed not by We the People but by government. They must respond to presidents and Congress, who often squander the knowledge, talent, and skills of the workers at NASA. Many people realized that NASA had been set on the wrong course when Sean O’Keefe, a bean counter, was put in charge of NASA. He was the first administrator, other than James Webb, who was not an aerospace person (engineer, scientist, astronaut). But we really should have seen it coming when Nixon abandoned space exploration after we reached the Moon., At that time, we should have realized that NASA was just a tool of the politicians, and that it had outlived their purpose for it. Instead, we spent another two decades thinking that NASA was going to use the Space Shuttle to open up space to commercial operations.

    In the 1990s, the space community finally realized that NASA was not the answer to their problems but was an impediment, so they tried to find ways to commercialize space by bypassing NASA. One of the first tasks was to reduce the cost of access to space so that more businesses could use space and operate in space. This is what Peter Diamandis’s X-Prize was all about. Elon Musk came to the same conclusion in about 2000, when he discovered that private space probes to Mars were hard to do because the cost of access was so great. That is what his SpaceX company is all about.

    Many others, including Bigelow, have been trying to reduce the cost of space exploration, but they have to overcome NASA’s set ways. Fortunately, some of those ways are being changed, but it is not fast, and Congress does not often go along with those changes. Reports are that commercial manned space was made possible because NASA agreed to SLS in exchange for Commercial Manned Launch Services. To fund commercial manned space, SLS had to be funded.

    Government is not quite ready for commercializing space, and Bigelow seems to be one of those who suffers because of it.

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