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Russian spacecraft hit by meteorite forces emergency mission to save the stranded crew

Russian spacecraft hit by meteorite forces emergency mission to save the stranded crew

The crew of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft is to be rescued from the International Space Station after their ship was damaged by a meteoroid

Russia is launching an emergency mission to rescue astronauts from a spaceship after it was damaged following a meteoroid strike.

A rescue craft will be sent up to the International Space Station in order to bring three crew members back to earth after they were effectively stranded in orbit following the strike on their capsule.

The Russian Soyuz MS-22 spaceship was docked at the ISS and sprang a large leak last month, which led to the postponement of a spacewalk and sent radiator coolant flying off into space.

Roscosmos – the Russian space agency – said that while no one was in any immediate danger, there were concerns about whether everyone stationed on the ISS could get back to earth if there was an emergency.

A screenshot showing the leak in the spacecraft.
UPI/Alamy Stock Photo

The craft has since been rendered unfit for use as a result of higher cabin temperatures caused by the leak, which means that there is only one ‘escape pod’ currently at the ISS.

That’s one of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceships, and it only has four seats.

There are currently seven astronauts on board the space station.

Hence, the Russians who arrived on the Soyuz are effectively stuck up there until something can be done.

With that in mind, the Russians have decided to bring forward a mission that was planned for March, sending up the Soyuz MS-23.

That’s now set to launch on February 20, bringing Russians Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin back, as well as US astronaut Francisco Rubio.

While the other ship is definitely damaged, it will be considered for use as a rescue vessel should a ‘particularly critical’ situation arise on the ISS before then.

Roscosmos added that the ship would return to earth without a crew once the replacement is there.

The hole that was left in the ship by the tiny meteoroid was just one millimetre in diameter, but that’s more than enough to cause a decent amount of damage.

The International Space Station.
Geopix/Alamy Stock Photo

Micrometeoroids such as this one aren’t the only thing to worry about up there, as there is also a load of ‘space junk’ floating around orbiting the earth as well, which could potentially cause more damage than this tiny speck of matter.

Some of that was created deliberately, particularly when Russia blew up one of their own satellites in 2021 as a test, but also from other stuff that is up there and has been left.

Incidentally, space is just about the only place left where Russia and the USA are still cooperating, given everything that is happening in Ukraine.

The ISS has been floating around the earth for more than two decades, having been launched in 1998.

It is due to be decommissioned in 2031, at which point it will be brought back to earth with a crash somewhere in the remote Pacific Ocean.

Featured Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo / NASA

Topics: US News, Russia, International Space Station, Science, Space, SpaceX, World News