The SpaceX Dragon capsule is being hastily modified in orbit to return another astronaut to Earth if necessary. NASA plans to take its astronaut Frank Rubio from the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to a Dragon capsule called Endurance, now managing the current SpaceX Crew-5 mission for NASA. The space agency decided to proceed with the refitting of the interior space of this spacecraft by moving an additional passenger seat.
Refitting SpaceX Dragon
The anatomical seat belonging to American astronaut Frank Rubio will be removed from the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, which is now docked with the ISS, but is recognized as dangerous for use by astronauts. Frank was brought to the ISS together with two Russians Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin. Thus, during the refit, not four, but five astronauts will be able to return to Earth on Endurance if any emergency situation occurs on the space station.
The damaged Soyuz TS-22 can still be used as a rescue spacecraft if something dangerous happens on the ISS before the arrival of the next Soyuz. Even in this case, the removal of the chair will only benefit: Soyuz MS-22 is safer to transport only two astronauts, not three.
“This change makes it possible to strengthen the protection of the crew by reducing the thermal load inside the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft for cosmonauts Prokopyev and Petelin in the event of an emergency return to Earth,” NASA said.
Trapped in orbit
Endurance was sent to the ISS in October 2022. Its crew of Crew-5 consisted of four people: Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada from NASA, Japanese cosmonaut Koichi Wakata and Russian Anna Kikina. Fortunately, Dragon capsules are technically designed to carry up to seven people, so there is a place in Endurance to rescue Rubio if necessary.
Soyuz MS-22 launched to the ISS in September 2022 for a planned six-month mission. But Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin are likely to stay in orbit twice as long. The expansion of the mission for the MS-22 crew is explained by the fact that the next Soyuz will launch without a crew to bring them home.
Earlier we reported on how the plan to rescue astronauts from NASA was rejected by Russia.
According to Space
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