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Update on ISS leaks: Several to be drilled & sealed over next 5 days

According to Russia’s state news service, astronauts on ISS have located several leaks in the 20-year-old Zvezda module of ISS, and will spend the next five days fixing them.

This report clarifies a previous report that left more questions than it answered. It appears that there are several leaks that were found using a microscope sent to the station and temporarily sealed. Now the goal in the next five days will be to permanently seal them.

[A] hole will be drilled at one of the fracture’s ends, which will be filled with cold welding and sealed with a fluoroplastic film on top. The same procedure will be done with other holes. After that, the surface will be sanded and wiped with alcohol wipes and covered with a sealant. Overall, the cosmonauts will put three layers of the sealant.

The repair method suggests that they are all cracks. To stop a crack from growing you drill out the end.

That they are all cracks further suggests that these are all stress fractures. Thus, no matter how permanent these particular repairs are, they cannot solve the greater problem of the aging module itself. We should expect more cracks to appear in the future unless something more drastic is done.

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.

7 comments

  • talgus

    keep the airlock closed to this module. cracks in areas that should not be flexing obviously are flexing.

  • Mitch S.

    “filled with cold welding and sealed with a fluoroplastic film on top. ”

    Another way of saying they’re going to fix it with JB Weld and duct tape!

  • Jeff Wright

    Hi, I’m Bob Vila’ and today we will spackle some tiles on this two storey Brownstone-I mean orbiter…while Norm test flushes the new proxmire…

  • Jerry Greenwood

    Crack repairs in a structure that is under tension is a tricky proposition. I wish them luck. I wouldn’t like to be inside that pressurized can during that process.
    Stop-drilling a crack, which seems to be part of their plan, will stop that crack but the problems with the metal and the environment it lives in won’t go away. The stresses the structure experiences as it goes from sun lite to absolute dark are no different than the pressurization cycles an airliner experiences. Even after that crack is repaired, the energy that caused it will still be acting on the structure, all day, every day, and will eventually make itself felt elsewhere.

    I’d love to have a sample of the material it was made from decades ago. It would give some answers.

  • Jerry Greenwood wrote, “I’d love to have a sample of the material it was made from decades ago. It would give some answers.”

    I guarantee the Russian engineers on the ground know exactly what that material is made of, as they built Zvezda following fifteen years of experience with the hull on Mir’s modules.

    When I was writing Leaving Earth in 2002 and was interviewing cosmonauts in Moscow, one complained strongly about the tragedy of not bringing back more sections of Mir to analyze on the ground, rather than letting the whole thing fall into the Pacific. They really wanted to get a good idea of how their hull changed on Mir’s oldest modules during fifteen years in space. I have always suspected that they got a sample anyhow, but how I don’t know.

  • Jeff Wright

    Buran could have done that-but their all-guns/no-butter approach sunk them. Early on-their ABMA was in the drivers’ seats, and the conventional forces were the red headed stepchildren. Nikita tried to go cheap with smaller rockets in Cuba after ABMA Jupiters were put in with the Turks. Had Nikita not done that, he might have kept Brez/Kos away from the door. The New Economic Plan in earlier times might have allowed the USSR to stay in the Space Race. Here in the US, York and friends had the ABMA killed. Medaris could have used the Redstone to beat Sputnik-but kept being blocked. Air Farce Thors and Titans were wrongfully picked over Jupiter and Saturn I…and the civilan NASA had the rest. Medaris was done dirty-and that is why I am touchy on Marshalls enemies today. The wiki actually has a good page on the ABMA and the near cancellation of Saturn I. Also read the old Space Daily piece “Is the Air Force the Enemy of Space?”…if you can find it…

  • Ray Van Dune

    Help me understand… the Russians explicitly say they will drill out ONE of the fracture’s ends. This obviously implies there are two ends, so why not drill out both and then fill, etc., if that’s how to stop propagation? Also, I am curious how large the drilled hole will be, whether it will extend all the way through to space, and what safety precautions will be taken.

    As I recall, there were strong expressions of concern (and irritation) by the Russians when the first Dragon II capsule was to autonomously dock with the IIS, apparently based on their feeling that they had not been adequately consulted and/or notified. I do not know if these concerns were justified or not, but it leads me to wonder what has been the extent of US-Russia collaboration on these fixes?

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