Unexplained leak from docked Soyuz spacecraft cancels Russia’s ISS spacewalk

Dec 14 (Reuters) – Two Russian cosmonauts were on board the International Space Station (ISS) after flight controllers noticed a puff of fluid from a docked Soyuz spacecraft, a NASA webcast showed. Routine spacewalks are cancelled.

A mass of snowflake-shaped particles can be seen ejecting from the rear of the Soyuz MS-22 capsule in NASA’s live video, which NASA commentators described as a coolant leak.

None of the seven astronauts currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS) — three Russians, three NASA and one Japanese — are in any danger, NASA said.

The accident occurred as the two astronauts, crew commander Sergei Prokopyev and flight engineer Dmitry Petrin, were gearing up for a planned spacewalk to remove a radiator from the International Space Station in Russia. Parts of one module are moved to another module.

Russian officials conducting a mission control operation near Moscow were heard telling Prokopyev and Petrin in radio transmissions that their spacewalk would be canceled while engineers worked to determine the nature and source of the leak.

NASA live commentator Rob Navias, broadcasting from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, also said the spacewalk was canceled due to the leak, which he said was at night ET It started at 7:45 (0145 GMT Thursday).

The Soyuz spacecraft arrived at the space station in September, brought Prokopyev, Petelin and American astronaut Frank Rubio to the ISS, and has remained connected to the Earth-facing side of the orbiting laboratory, Navias said.

Navias said the spacewalk, scheduled for Wednesday, had been delayed once in late November because of a malfunctioning cooling pump in the astronauts’ spacesuits.

According to NASA, the spacewalk will be the 12th for the ISS this year and the 257th in the history of the 22-year-old platform for assembly, maintenance and upgrades.

Navias said it was too early to know what effect the leak might have on the integrity of the spacecraft and whether it would cause any difficulties for the astronauts returning to Earth at the end of their mission.

The space station also hosts five other spacecraft — two SpaceX capsules (Crew Dragon and Cargo Dragon), a Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter, and two Russian supply ships Progress 81 and Progress 82.

The International Space Station, which spans the length of a U.S. football field and orbits about 250 miles above Earth, has been occupied since 2000 and is operated by a U.S.-Russia-led partnership that includes Canada, Japan and 11 European nations.

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington. Edited by Gerry Doyle

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