Damaged Soyuz capsule: NASA has asked SpaceX about the return of the ISS crew

It is still unclear whether three ISS astronauts can return to Earth in their Soyuz capsule. In the meantime, it has also been asked whether SpaceX could get them.

When it came to the question of how three astronauts could be fetched from the ISS if necessary, whose space capsule was inoperably damaged, NASA has now also contacted SpaceX. The US space agency made this public in a blog entry. It is not yet known whether the US space company replied and what.

After a coolant leak on the Soyuz space capsule, it is unclear whether the two Russians and the Americans can return to Earth with it. Before the turn of the year, the Russian space agency had announced that it wanted to make a final decision on how to proceed in January.

The “significant leak” on the Soyuz capsule was discovered during preparations for a spacewalk. Since then, the space capsule has not been sufficiently cooled. It’s not just about the crew, it’s also about the computers. Neither NASA nor Roscosmos currently knows how severe and serious the damage is. Cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio came to the station with the spacecraft. If the space capsule is not classified as safe enough, a new spacecraft would have to be sent to the ISS, in Russia one would not be available until February at the earliest.

SpaceX currently has four single-crew spacecraft, the Crew Dragons. The Endurance is currently docked with the ISS, and the Freedom only returned from its maiden flight in October. The next launches of Endeavor and Resilience are currently scheduled for mid-February and March, but it is unclear whether and how far this could be brought forward if necessary. The space shuttles could be sent unmanned to the ISS to pick up the three astronauts. At the moment, however, the focus is still on understanding the capabilities of the Soyuz capsule after the leak, NASA assures. A spokeswoman for the space agency had previously told Reuters that SpaceX had been asked a number of questions, but that switching to a Crew Dragon is not currently the focus.

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