Russia to launch space station rescue mission to bring astronauts home

Russia said on Wednesday it would send an empty spacecraft to the International Space Station to bring three astronauts back to Earth. The spacecraft will replace the damaged Soyuz capsule, which is attached to the orbital outpost.

The move will extend the time in space for three astronauts, Russia’s Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitry Petlin, and NASA’s Frank Rubio. A damaged ship returns to Earth empty.

Dec. Soyuz is the only spacecraft currently used by Russia to transport astronauts to and from the ISS on 14. A spray of white particles began Exiting the Soyuz docked to the orbital platform From September. Mr. Prokofiev and Mr. Betlin was about to embark on a spacewalk when the incident occurred. Spaceflight canceled. The white particles were coolant from the Soyuz, and the leak continued for hours until the damaged coolant loop emptied.

Since then, astronauts have used a camera on the end of a robotic arm on the space station to examine the leak, while engineers on the ground have examined whether the Soyuz is still safe enough to fly passengers home.

On Wednesday, Roscosmos, the state agency that oversees Russia’s space industry, announced that the damaged Soyuz would return to Earth without a crew. An empty replacement Soyuz is expected to launch on February 20.

Roscosmos said the investigation concluded that the damage was caused by a meteorite strike.

Four more astronauts are currently aboard the International Space Station. They were brought there by Crew Dragon, a capsule built by SpaceX that carries NASA crews into orbit.

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