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.
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