Russia Trying to Determine Source of Leak in Soyuz MS-22 Spacecraft, Scrubs Spacewalk

Russia Trying to Determine Source of Leak in Soyuz MS-22 Spacecraft, Scrubs Spacewalk

Two Russian cosmonauts on the International Space Station were suited up and ready to begin a spacewalk when it was called off because of a leak in the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked outside. The stream of particles from the leak was clearly visible in NASA TV’s live coverage. Russia is trying to determine the source of the leak and implications for the integrity of the spacecraft. Soyuz MS-22 delivered the two comonauts and NASA’s Frank Rubio to the ISS and is intended to bring them back to Earth.

Rob Navias from NASA’s Communications Office, who is narrating NASA TV’s coverage, said a warning tone sounded about 7:45 pm EST associated with low pressure in one of the two external Soyuz cooling loops. The warning was accompanied by a visible stream of particles emanating from the aft of Soyuz MS-22 near the instrumentation and propulsion module.

The swarm of particles spewing from Soyuz MS-22 are clearly visible in this screengrab from NASA TV about 3 hours after the leak started.

Navias reported that “Russian specialists are poring over data at the moment trying to determine the cause of the leak.”

Meanwhile, the spacewalk was cancelled, the airlock repressurized, and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin are now back inside the main segment of the ISS.

The Soyuz MS-22 crew: Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev (center) and Dmitry Petelin (right) with NASA astronaut Frank Rubio (left) before launch. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

This is the second of four spacewalks Russia planned for November and December to continue outfitting the Nauka science module that arrived in the summer of 2021. Various pieces of equipment need to be moved from one part of the Russian segment to another.

The first spacewalk took place as scheduled on November 17. This one was planned for November 25, but was cancelled when a pump in one of the spacesuits failed. They intended to try again on December 6, but it was postponed again until today.

Navias stresses that none of the ISS crew — three Russians, three Americans, and one Japanese — are endangered by the leak.

However, that spacecraft is needed to return Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio to Earth. It also serves as a lifeboat while docked to the ISS in case there’s an emergency and they have to return to Earth unexpectedly.

A SpaceX Crew Dragon is also docked there. It delivered NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina.

NASA issued this statement:

Just after midnight EST, NASA Chief Flight Director Emily Nelson was interviewed by Navias. She said the Russians are looking at the problem and once they have a good understanding “we will then jointly make a decision” on the path forward. “We’ll regroup tomorrow.”

At the moment Russia is using the European Robotic Arm, operated by Kikina, to survey Soyuz MS-22. The arm, provided by the European Space Agency, is anchored to Nauka and has cameras to provide a close-up view.

The European Robotic Arm reaches across from the Nauka module on the left to Soyuz MS-22 on the right to survey the area of the leak. Screenshot from NASA TV.


Stay tuned for updates when more information is available.


This article has been updated.

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