WASHINGTON — A radiator in the Russian portion of the International Space Station began leaking coolant on Oct. 9, the third such incident involving Russian hardware on the station in less than a year.
NASA said in a statement that flight controllers noticed chips coming from one of two radiators on the Naoka module in the Russian portion of the station at about 1 p.m. ET. This module, also known as the Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM), was installed on the station in July 2021.
Flight controllers notified the station crew, who were able to visually confirm the leak. “Yes, there is a leak coming from the coolant in the MLM,” NASA astronaut Yasmine Moghbeli told audio consoles that NASA broadcast over the Internet.
It was not clear how much coolant leaked from the radiator and for how long. NASA said in its statement that Roscosmos informed the agency that the leak was with a spare radiator in Nauka. This cooler was originally located on the Rassvet module, which was launched to the station in 2010, and was transferred to Nauka earlier this year as part of a series of spacewalks to outfit Nauka.
in a permit Roscosmos said on social media that Nauka’s main thermal control system was working properly, and that the station and its crew were not in danger. NASA made a similar assessment, saying there were “no impacts to the crew or space station operations.” However, the station crew closed window shutters in the American portion of the station to prevent contamination from coolant leaks.
This is the third time in less than a year that a Russian vehicle on the International Space Station has suffered a coolant leak. In December, the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft lost coolant three months after arriving at the station. This led Roscosmos to replace that spacecraft with an unmanned Soyuz spacecraft, Soyuz MS-23, a decision that kept the crew that launched to the station on Soyuz MS-22 in space for an additional six months, returning on September 27.
In February, the unmanned Progress MS-21 cargo spacecraft also suffered a coolant leak. This leak occurred before the spacecraft, which was launched last October, was scheduled to separate from the station.
The two leaks raised suspicions about a design or manufacturing defect in the spacecraft. However, Roscosmos concluded that the leaks were caused by micrometeorite impacts or orbital debris. NASA officials accepted this conclusion.
“The NASA team also examined it, independently of the Russian team, and we also couldn’t find anything, based on the information our Russian colleagues gave us, of anything other than some kind of external force or debris or something like that.” “Another like this,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s International Space Station program manager, said at a news conference in July.
It was not clear whether the leak would affect plans for two spacewalks from the American sector. NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara and ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen are scheduled to perform a spacewalk on October 12 to perform station maintenance and collect scientific samples while O’Hara and Mogbele will perform another spacewalk on October 20 to perform additional station maintenance.
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