Roscosmos will decide in January what to do about the leaked Soyuz capsule.
Is the Soyuz spacecraft currently docked at the International Space Station (ISS) still good for service or is it no longer able to transport astronauts? This difficult question for Russia will be resolved in the next few weeks. This is reported by the state-run Tass news agency on December 27, 2022.
What future of the Soyuz capsule?
It is indeed in January 2023 that the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) must decide. The capsule was the victim of a coolant leak, spotted in mid-December, just before a spacewalk for two cosmonauts – it was canceled for safety. The leak was confirmed by the crew aboard the ISS and captured on video.
The most plausible hypothesis to explain this degradation is the encounter between the Soyuz and a micrometeorite or some very small debris. Even if the object has very small dimensions, a few centimeters or a few millimeters, the damage caused at the time of impact can be very significant.
The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft on the ISS. // Source: NASA Johnson
Since the discovery of this dispersion of liquid in space (the flow is outward), the Soyuz hull has been inspected by the robotic arm of the ISS. It was then that the leak was located. Tests were also conducted to see how the capsule works in terms of its propulsion systems. No anomalies were noted.
Two perspectives coexist for the time being concerning this Soyuz vessel: either its integrity is intact and it can be used to repatriate astronauts to Earth. Either it is deemed too damaged, which would jeopardize the returning crew. In this case, the craft would be dropped empty. Instead, a new Soyuz capsule would be sent into space to provide transportation.