Russia launches empty ship for ISS repairment

Russia launches empty ship for ISS repairment

Russia launches empty ship for ISS repairment

An uncrewed Russian Soyuz capsule took off early on Feb. 24 from Kazakhstan for the International Space Station (ISS) to eventually bring home three astronauts whose return vehicle was damaged by a tiny meteoroid.

The Soyuz MS-23 vessel lifted off successfully from the Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome, live video broadcast by ISS-partner NASA showed.

Though the capsule is scheduled to dock with the ISS early Feb. 26 Moscow time, it is not expected to bring home U.S. astronaut Frank Rubio and Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev until September.
The three arrived at the ISS last September aboard MS-22, and were originally only supposed to stay about six months, until the end of March.

But their capsule began leaking coolant on Dec. 14, shortly before Russian cosmonauts were to begin a spacewalk, after being hit by what U.S. and Russian space officials believe was a tiny space rock.

MS-23 was initially scheduled to launch in mid-March with two cosmonauts and an astronaut on board who would eventually take over for Rubio, Petelin and Prokopyev.

Without replacements however, the three will now spend almost a year on the ISS.

After delivering humans to the ISS, capsules stay attached to the orbiting research lab throughout the duration of missions, in case of any emergencies and to ferry the crew home.

The damage caused by the suspected tiny meteoroid to the MS-22’s cooling system raised fears that there could be problems during reentry, when the capsule experiences extreme temperatures.