A Russian astronaut just returned from ISS admitted during a press conference that the recently located crack on the 20-year-old Zvezda module that was the source of the long-term slow leak could be the result of the module’s age.
“Twenty years are actually an absolute record for all space stations now. And we see now that something is changing and something requires greater [attention]. Again, if we go back to the leak, the hull is already beginning to give cracks and scratches somewhere, that is, we see the limits [of the ISS structure’s service life],” [cosmonaut Ivan Vagner] said.
The crack has been sealed temporarily, with a more permanent seal put in place after the nearby docking port is cleared and the hatches closed and out of the way.
If Russian astronauts are noticing wear and tear in Zvezda that is bad enough to cause “cracks”, this raises some very serious issues for ISS’s future, as replacing that module on ISS will be complicated and expensive, and at this point no one has even begun planning such an replacement.
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