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Russian investigators conclude leak on Soyuz caused by external impact

ISS as of November 28, 2022
ISS after November 28, 2022 docking of unmanned Dragon freighter.
MS-22 is the Soyuz capsule that is leaking.

The Russian investigators yesterday concluded that the coolant leak on the Soyuz capsule docked to ISS was caused by an external impact, either by a meteroid or a small piece of space junk.

A decision on whether this capsule is still usable for manned flight will be made sometime in January. If not, Russia will move up the launch of the next Soyuz to ISS one month from March to February, but launch it empty. If so, managers will leave the schedule as is.

If the engineers determine the capsule is not flightworthy, it will mean however that until February, ISS is short one lifeboat. At present there are two Dragon capsules docked to ISS, one manned and one cargo. Both return to Earth with a habitable interior, but the cargo capsule is not intended for manned flight. In an emergency however it might be possible to use it.

This situation suggests that NASA should pay to get SpaceX to upgrade the cargo Dragons so that they could always be used as an emergency lifeboat.

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  • Col Beausabre

    What would the upgrade need to be? Collapsed net slings to be attached to shock absorbers for landing? Emergency communications suite? Medical kit?

  • geoffc

    One problem with the ISS is that there are 4 ports on the Russian side (usually 2 Progress + 1 Soyuz in use, ATV was often there in the past, but no more). But the US side has 2 Berthing ports (Cygnus, and orginal Dragon Cargo used this). Only 2 Docking ports (PMA’s with IDA’s) used by Dragon Crew and Dragon Cargo.

    If SpaceX wanted to send a Dragon Crew for this Soyuz crew, in case the Soyuz cannot be ready in time, they cannot have a Dragon Cargo docked at the same time, as there are only 2 ports for them.

    Thus I would suggest another PMA/IDA combination might be in order as well.

    And it might be that Axiom with their new Station modules may be the ones to provide those ports.

  • Richard M

    NASA generates plans for everything (one thing that hasn’t changed over the years).

    And I have to think there are contingencies they have worked up for “extreme” evacuation scenarios: sticking more crew in a Crew Dragon, or (yes) putting crew in a Cargo Dragon. I have heard rumors; nothing definite.

    How robust are these plans? Is there any extra equipment present to accommodate these contingencies? I have no idea. It may be these plans aren’t robust; or if they are, NASA may not consider it….*politic* to publicize them in any way, because of Russian sensitivities, etc.

    Still what is certain is that the whole question has taken on a new salience in the past week. I think it’s more than reasonable for space journalists to press NASA on the question.

  • pzatchok

    They could send up everything to make a cargo Dragon into a manned Dragon on one cargo trip and just install it and plug it in as needed.

    I would rather have them and never need them than never have them and all of a sudden need them.

  • Ed

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if the debris was from the satellite the Russians blew up?

  • pzatchok

    Canvas cocoon like hammocks reinforced with and held in place with adjustable cargo straps.

    Packed tight they could fit into a backpack sized bag.

    One for each passenger 4 or 5 to a Dragon.

    Add in a small carbon dioxide scrubber that should last 4 for 24 hours and you almost have everything.
    Three waste bags for each passenger and a good first aid kit.
    A couple of bottles of water and some protein bars should keep them happy for the ride home.
    A radio should already be on the Cargo capsule for at least telemetry and data. Just add a voice channel.

  • Jeff Wright

    Might not be a bad idea to look over their other rides-were it not for the leak-they would not have known their craft was compromised. A particle could nick a wire and the hole filled-

  • Edward

    pzatchok wrote: “Canvas cocoon like hammocks reinforced with and held in place with adjustable cargo straps.

    Reentry and splashdown are probably the hardest parts to prepare a Cargo Dragon for emergency human use. The forces can be pretty hard on someone who does not have a properly prepared “hammock.”

  • pzatchok

    Lets test it.

    Or how about inflatable air mattresses like additions to the cocoons.A little more cushion under the hammock.

    And really does it have to be safer than your car with its cheap seats two straps and airbags? If the capsule took more of a pounding than a car does in an crash then the passengers would never survive.

    And think about it. The cargo coming back is just fine with nothing other than a bag and cargo straps holding it in.

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