A seat liner from the damaged Soyuz MS-22 capsule on the International Space Station has been moved to… carryingand converting the SpaceX Crew Dragon into a five-person “lifeboat” if the crew had to evacuate in the event of an extreme emergency.
The International Space Station mission management team made the decision to move the seat liner from Soyuz MS-22 to carrying Crew Dragon on January 12, according to NASA statment. The seat liner in question belonged to NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, who traveled to the International Space Station on September 21, 2022 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The space agency said this is being done “to provide lifeboat capabilities in the event Rubio needs to return to Earth due to an emergency evacuation from the space station.”
An apparent small meteor struck the Soyuz River in December, damaging its cooling system. Roscosmos The spacecraft was deemed unsafe to ride the crew back to Earth, forcing the Russian Space Agency and NASA to come up with a solution. That solution is MS-23 – a replacement uncrewed Soyuz craft that won’t be blasting off to the International Space Station until February 22 at the earliest.
That’s 33 days from now, an inconvenient period of time during which Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin don’t have safe and reliable means to return to Earth, should an extreme emergency occur on the International Space Station. A full evacuation of the orbital outpost never happened, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen – hence the need to increase crew capacity. carryingwhich was originally configured for four astronauts: NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, Josh Kasada and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and Anna Kikina of Roscosmos.
On January 17, NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann worked inside carrying The ship’s crew and tools assemble and perform preparatory work before transporting the seat liner. The crew transported the Rubio seat liner and installed it inside the Crew Dragon the next day, according to the report NASA. The Endurance can now safely seat five astronauts, but as NASA noted, the modification also “allows for increased protection of the crew by reducing thermal load inside the MS-22 spacecraft for Prokopyev and Petelin in the event of an emergency return to Earth.” In fact, temperatures inside the MS-22’s crew cabin can fluctuate between 100 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit (low 30 to 40 degrees Celsius) during re-entry, according to Roscosmos.
The MS-23 Soyuz variant is expected to arrive at the International Space Station in late February, but that doesn’t mean the three-man crew will immediately return to Earth. A replacement crew was supposed to fly aboard MS-23, but now that mission probably won’t fly until the fall of 2023. As a result, the MS-22 trio may have to stay on the International Space Station for an entire year. Dina Kontella, director of integration for International Space Station Program Operations, hinted at that during a press conference Tuesday, saying that Rubio, Prokopyev and Beitlin will “likely” return to Earth in September, as well. mentioned In Ars Technica
As for the fate of MS-22, it will return to Earth – sans crew – after MS-23 reaches the station. Once that happens, Rubio’s seat liner and those belonging to Prokopyev and Petelin (currently inside MS-22) will be transferred to the newly arrived Soyuz vehicle.
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