Space, Russia will send reserve Soyuz to recover astronauts from ISS

Russia will send a new unmanned Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft on February 20 to bring Russian astronauts Dimitri Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev and American Frank Rubio back to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS). This was announced by the Russian space agency Roscomos, specifying that the cosmonauts had arrived with the Soyuz MS-22, now docked with the ISS and from which a loss of coolant was detected in mid-December. The latter, with which the three should have returned, will return to Earth without a crew.

It will be the first rescue operation in space

The Soyuz M-23 spacecraft will be the first vehicle ever to be launched for an in-orbit rescue operation. This was stated in a joint press conference organized by NASA by NASA programs director for the ISS, Joel Montalbano, and the director for human flight of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Sergei Krikalev, who explained that “it will not be possible to repair damaged Soyuz in orbit”. The damage was caused, the two experts confirmed, by the impact of a meteorite with a diameter of about a millimeter, which occurred at very high speed on the Soyuz radiator.

“Difficult and risky to repair the Soyuz in orbit”

Krikalev observed that “it is very difficult to replace the Soyuz radiator in orbit and it is also difficult and risky. For this reason the Commission has decided to replace the vehicle by sending another shuttle to the ISS”. As a result, the damaged Soyuz M-22 will have to be removed from its docking point on the Space Station and returned to Earth unmanned. The operations necessary to prepare the vehicle for re-entry and those to prepare the new shuttle to welcome the crew will take some time and for this reason the mission of the three astronauts is expected to be extended.