An uncrewed Russian Soyuz capsule docked early Sunday with the International Space Station and will finally bring home three astronauts whose initial return vehicle was damaged by a small meteorite.
The MS-23 ship autonomously headed to the orbital research laboratory, a live video from NASA’s ISS partner showed, completing a two-day Soyuz journey after departing from Kazakhstan.
US astronaut Frank Rubio and Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev are expected to return home in September.
The trio arrived at the ISS last September aboard MS-22, and were originally only supposed to stay for about six months, until the end of March.
But their capsule began leaking coolant in mid-December after being struck by what US and Russian officials believe was a tiny space rock.
Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, decided to send MS-23 to replace the damaged craft, but without its own planned crew of three.
With no one to replace them, Rubio, Petelin and Prokopyev will now spend almost a year in space.
The damaged MS-22 is expected to leave the space station without passengers and return to Earth in late March.
Four others are currently on board the ISS, which arrived on a SpaceX Dragon capsule last October as part of the Crew-5 mission.
They are scheduled to be joined next week by members of the Crew-6 mission – two Americans, an Emirati and a Russian – who will also board the SpaceX capsule expected to launch Monday from Florida.
After a few days of overlap, Crew-5 will then return to Earth.
© 2023 AFP
Quote: Russian ship docks with ISS to replace damaged capsule (2023, 26 February) retrieved 26 February 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-02-russian-ship-docks-iss-capsule.html
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