Small air leak patched at International Space Station, crew not in danger
Astronauts scrambled Thursday to patch a tiny hole in a Russian capsule that was allowing air to leak from the International Space Station.
The leak was detected Wednesday night possibly from a micrometeorite strike when it caused a small drop in cabin pressure. It was traced to a hole about 2 millimeters (less than one-tenth of an inch) across in a Soyuz capsule docked at the space station.
The crew aboard the International Space Station is conducting troubleshooting and repair work today after the discovery of a tiny leak last night traced to the Russian segment of the orbital complex. More... https://t.co/MbtYrlFuO0 pic.twitter.com/eAOa8tVadQIntl. Space Station (@Space_Station) August 30, 2018
Thursday morning, the crew taped over the hole, slowing the leak. Later, the two Russian spacemen put sealant on a cloth and stuck it over the area, while their colleagues took photos for engineers on the ground. Flight controllers, meanwhile, monitored the cabin pressure while working to come up with a better long-term solution.
Mission Control outside Moscow told the astronauts to let the sealant dry overnight and that more leak checks would be conducted Friday. The makeshift repairs seem to have stabilized the situation, at least for now, officials said. Earlier, flight controllers tapped into the oxygen supply of a Russian cargo capsule to partially replenish the atmosphere in the station.
Yesterday showed again how valuable our emergency training is. We could locate and stop a small leak in our Soyuz, thanks to great cooperation between the crew and control centres on several continents. pic.twitter.com/Jo0MnIIprLAlexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) August 31, 2018
The leaking Soyuz one of two up there arrived at the orbiting lab in June with three astronauts. It’s their ride home, too, come December, and also serves as a lifeboat in case of an emergency. A NASA spokesman said it was premature to speculate on whether the three might have to return to Earth early if the leak, even as small as it is, cannot be stopped.
The hole is located in the upper, spherical section of the Soyuz, which does not return to Earth, according to NASA.
The 250-mile-high outpost is home to three Americans, two Russians and one German. Orbital debris is a constant threat, even the tiniest specks.
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