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Russia: Air leaks fixed on Zvezda

According to the Russian state-run press, Russian astronauts have completed their repair work on the ISS module Zvezda and are about to seal the module to test their work.

“The crew of the International Space Station has completed the repair and recovery work on the hull of the Zvezda module. In the coming days, Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov will close the hatches in the Zvezda module to check the atmospheric level,” the press office said.

Previous reports suggested the astronauts had located a total of two cracks, both now sealed.

The larger question however remains. Are the cracks stress fractures, and if so do they suggest that Zvezda’s 20-year-old hull is beginning to fail? The Russians have been very silent about these questions, though they have admitted the possibility once or twice, almost as an aside.

Nor has NASA been forthcoming. The American space agency has apparently joined the Russians in keeping this problem out of the news, at all costs. Once, the employees at NASA were Americans who demanded openness from Russia and from themselves. No more. Increasingly our government workers are indistinguishable from Soviet apparatchiks, whose main goal was to protect the government from bad press.

If Zvezda’s hull is failing then ISS faces some very serious engineering issues. They can be solved, but not by silence and sticking one’s head in the sand.

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. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • pzatchok

    I am starting to think that the skin of the module was manufactured with flaws inside the aluminum.

  • Lee Stevenson

    @pzatchok, all metals suffer from fatigue if subject to punishment of one sort or another. I doubt that any components were sent into orbit without relevent testing, ( especially back when the module was manufactured…), More likely is that we do not fully understand how metals react to stress in zero g over long time scales… I can imagine crystallisation due to stress occuring much faster in zero g’s, but I’m no metallurgist… If nothing else, we should learn something from this, but as Bob says, only if the problem is admitted and investigated.

  • Jeff Wright

    LDEF wasn’t up there as lon, or was it?

  • Jay

    It was up about six years. I still have the package of the seeds that was flown on the LDEF I was given when I was a student. I never planted them and I framed it in my office at home.

  • pzatchok

    I no longer think these are stress fractures.

    Stress fractures would be far larger than 4 centimeters and would be in a patern reflecting the stress passing through the metal.

    More than likely these are small inclusions or dirt particles inside the metal that got spread out into long lines during the rolling proccess.

    Obviously any visible flaws in the metal would disqualify it for use but did the Soviets have a way to X-ray inspect the whole of the sheat and did they do a thorough job if they did?
    I do not trust their quality control.

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