Russian rocket to pick up cosmonauts from the International Space Station

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Russia will launch a new Soyuz rocket to carry home two cosmonauts and a US astronaut from the International Space Station after their original capsule caused a coolant leak.

The leak resulted from a small hole in the external radiator of the Soyuz MS-22 capsule currently docked to the ISS, which was scheduled to deliver the three crew members to Earth in March.

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“Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitry Petelin and Francisco Rubio’s expedition to the ISS is being extended,” said Roskosmos.

“They will return to Earth on Soyuz MS-23.

“The launch of Soyuz MS-23 will take place on February 20, 2023 in unmanned mode.”

The launch of the MS-23 was previously scheduled for mid-March.

Soyuz MS-22 will descend to Earth without a crew, it said.

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Roskosmos said damage to the radiator pipeline occurred as a result of a meteorite.

“The diameter of the hole is less than a millimeter,” he said.

The incident has disrupted Russian ISS operations, suspending spacewalks by its cosmonauts as officials focus on the leaking capsule, which serves as a lifeboat for the crew.

The leak is also a problem for NASA.

The US agency said last month it was investigating whether SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft could provide an alternative ride home for some ISS crew members, in case Russia is unable to launch another Soyuz.

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—Reuters