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Russians preparing replacement Soyuz for launch to ISS

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.

Though a final decision will not be made until the completion on December 27, 2022 of their investigation into the leak in the coolant system of the Soyuz capsule docked to ISS, the Russians have begun preparing a replacement Soyuz for launch.

A backup spacecraft to bring cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) back to Earth will be prepared by February 19 and the spaceship is currently undergoing tests at the Baikonur spaceport, Roscosmos Chief Yury Borisov said on Monday.

That replacement Soyuz was supposed to launch in March, which means they can only accelerate its preparation by about a month. Assuming it is determined that the leaking capsule cannot be used safely as a lifeboat, this means that until February the station does not have its standard complement of lifeboats.

Should something happen that requires an immediate evacuation before February, it might be possible to get an extra three people into the two Dragon capsules presently docked to ISS, since each was designed to carry a maximum of six passengers, though generally four is considered their maximum capacity.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


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  • TL

    Can a cargo dragon be used as an emergency lifeboat or does it not have the life support systems installed?

  • pzatchok

    I wonder if a person in a space suit could use one in an emergency.

    The capsules do hold pressure and are used to return experiments intact.

    I am sure the capsule could be sent on a less than 12 hour return and I bet a standard suit could keep someone alive for that long.

  • geoffc

    Dragon Crew was designed for 7. But at some point they changed the seat angle for rentry and that precludes the extra three seats from fitting any longer.

    Additionally, another Dragon Crew could be launched by SpaceX. They do have 4 of them, that they reuse, and finding a booster ought not be a problem, considering SpaceX is launching every 6 days or so on average, so shuffling a Starlink mission for this seems like it ought to be straightforward enough. And since it would launch unmanned, it probably does not matter if they a booster on its 14th flight. :) Might feel different with people on board.

    The bigger problem with Dragon is there are only 2 docking ports (also 2 berthing ports that Cygnus and older Dragon Cargo use) and this would tie up the second port, and keep additional Dragon Cargo untiul it left. Seems like they could use a few more docking ports on the US side.

  • Edward

    geoffc wrote: “… and finding a booster ought not be a problem, considering SpaceX is launching every 6 days or so on average, so shuffling a Starlink mission for this seems like it ought to be straightforward enough.

    This is what SpaceX has been doing with other unexpected payloads, such as OneWeb. Starlink has a flexibility that SpaceX has taken advantage of to good effect in supporting its other customers. The ability to turn around a Falcon 9 booster is also important in this flexibility. Traditional launch companies have not had this same flexibility, and they relied upon delays of one customer in order to support an accelerated schedule from another. With Starlink, the induced delay is relatively minor, when it even exists at all.

    Reusability has been advantageous in so many ways more than just the ability to reduce launch prices.

    However, are we hearing any talk about using a Dragon as an option? Somehow I doubt that the Russians are willing to spend the money. (Maybe their next crew can go up on trampolines or broomsticks, or is that being unfair to Yury Borisov, the current Roscosmos chief? It was Rogozin who had made those suggestions for NASA.)

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