Spacewalks shelved as Russian ISS module springs a significant leak

Astronauts and mission control on the ground are busy investigating a leak aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the International Space Station (ISS), after a mysterious plume erupted from its exterior on Wednesday. All crew members are safe and the station is functioning normally, though planned spacewalks have been shelved as teams work to assess the damage.

Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin were all geared up to carry out a spacewalk at 7:45 pm EST on Wednesday, when teams on the ground detected significant leakage of an unknown substance from the Soyuz module. The cosmonauts had not yet set foot outside the spacecraft and were not exposed to the fluid, which is now believed to be coolant spraying from an external radiator on the aft end of the module.

All crew members of Expedition 68 are said to be safe and the station is said to remain in good condition, though mission controllers are closely monitoring the Soyuz MS-22 module, with plans underway for further inspections using a robotic arm. Another Russian spacewalk scheduled for December 21 has been indefinitely postponed as investigations continue.

In a statement, Russian Space Agency Roscosmos said cameras installed on a manipulator arm were used to image the outer surface of the spacecraft. Analysis of these image has revealed damage to the outer skin of “instrument and assembly compartment,” while Russian officials say a small meteoroid is most likely to blame for the impact, according to Reuters.

“At the moment, all systems of the ISS and the ship are operating normally, the crew is safe,” the Roscomos statement continues. “After analyzing the situation, a decision will be made on the further actions of both specialists on Earth and members of the crew of the ISS Russian Segment.”

Sources: NASA, Roscosmos

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