Accident on the Russian Nauka module: Astronauts’ spacewalk postponed to the end of 2023

The accident on the ISS forced NASA to revise its schedule of astronaut spacewalks again and postpone one of them to the end of 2023. This unforeseen situation arose due to a coolant leak from the backup radiator. It is attached to the outer part of the Russian Nauka module. The leak was noticed at the beginning of last week. But now it has stopped.

Astronauts’ spacewalk from the ISS. Illustrative photo: NASA

Earlier this week, NASA announced that this liquid was not toxic or dangerous to the ISS crew. However, the agency noted that experts were considering ways to prevent even small amounts of this liquid from entering internal systems in order to avoid damage to equipment. 

Changes in plans

While the analysis of the situation is still ongoing, NASA management has decided to postpone the planned spacewalk of astronauts scheduled for October 19. The agency postponed it to the end of this year. However, it should be noted that the intended tasks for astronauts to go into outer space are not critically important, so changing the date should not negatively affect the work of the ISS. 

The second planned spacewalk of astronauts was postponed to October 30. During this spacewalk, NASA astronauts, Loral O’Hara and Jasmin Moghbeli, will embark on a historic mission — the first time in history they will travel outside the space station. According to NASA, their task includes dismantling a faulty electronic unit, known as a Radio Frequency Group, from a communications antenna bracket and replacing one of the twelve bearing assemblies on the left truss of the Solar Alpha Rotary Joint. These bearings allow the ISS solar panels to rotate, tracking the Sun as the station moves in orbit around the Earth.

European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen on the ISS. Image authorship: NASA

Another planned spacewalk by astronauts, which has also shifted, has a more non-standard task. O’Hara and European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen will collect samples of the outer part of the station to determine if microorganisms exist there. In addition, they will replace the high-quality camera on the left truss of the station and perform a number of technical tasks in preparation for future spacewalks by astronauts.

Accidents on the ISS

This recent leak is not the first incident that has affected the work of the ISS recently. In December last year, a similar situation occurred in the Soyuz spacecraft, which was docked to the station, when coolant leaked after a collision with a meteoroid. This incident led to the fact that NASA astronauts and Russian cosmonauts had to extend their stay at the station for another six months until the replacement of the evacuation spacecraft was organized.

So far, the reasons for the recent leak that occurred in the radiator of the Nauka module remain unknown and require further research.

Earlier we reported on how the manned flight of the Boeing Starliner was postponed to 2024.

According to NASA

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