Became known scheme for the return to Earth of cosmonauts of the emergency Soyuz

An unmanned ship can be sent to them

On Wednesday, the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft was uncovered at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which will fly to the aid of cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev, Dmitry Petelin and Francisco Rubio, who were without transport suitable for landing on Earth. The State Commission, chaired by Director General of Roscosmos Yuri Borisov, made the final decision that the Soyuz MS-23 will fly to the ISS in automatic mode, without people.

Recall that on December 15 there was a depressurization of the external contour of the radiator of the thermal control system of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, on which the crew arrived at the station. This happened due to an external impact on the instrument-assembly compartment (PAO). How? Experts have not yet understood this. The version with the meteorite seems to have disappeared – most likely, there was a collision with a piece of space debris flying at a lower speed than meteors – this is evidenced by the very small diameter of the hole – less than 1 millimeter.

Before the New Year and a week after it, Roscosmos specialists puzzled over what to do now with the damaged ship, from which all the coolant had leaked into space, and with the astronauts, who, after all, needed to descend to Earth on something.

According to the plan, their expedition was to end this spring. But now, due to the accident, the cosmonauts will have to stay in space for another half a year – otherwise, it will be a big waste due to the use of an additional ship, because they have lost their own. According to industry experts, the emergency Soyuz MS-22 can only be used for unmanned descent of some cargo – no one will risk people.

According to the initial version, they wanted to send one experienced cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko to the MS-23 to avoid the risk in case of failure of the automatic docking system. But in the end they decided to give it up. The ship will take off! Instead of cosmonauts, for the necessary balance, sacks of food will be “seated” on cradle chairs, after all, the guys still have many more months of work in space.

The launch of the ship, according to Yuri Borisov, will take place on February 20. Prokopiev, Petelin and Rubio will have to return on it only in the fall. At the same time, the following crew led by Oleg Kononenko will fly to replace them: Nikolai Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara (they were preparing to launch on March 16, but now everything had to be moved “to the right” due to the emergency).

As for the emergency Soyuz MS-22, its launch date has not yet been announced. However, it is known that it will take place in the so-called 6th district, southeast of the Kazakh Dzhezkazgan.

The option of sending the Soyuz MS-23 unmanned spacecraft in February is considered by experts to be more effective. With him, none of the astronauts of the following missions loses the opportunity to go into space as part of the planned queue.

There can be one minus here: if automatic docking, which has many degrees of protection, fails, then the astronauts will be left without a rescue ship for some time, until the Soyuz MS-24 flight.

Published in the newspaper “Moskovsky Komsomolets” No. 28948 dated January 12, 2023

Newspaper headline:
“Union” of salvation

Source of data and images:mk

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