Two Russian astronauts went outside of the International Space Station on Wednesday and successfully contained a leaking radiator, resulting in leftover coolant being released into space from the leak site.
Oleg Kononenko, a cosmonaut, intended to absorb the accumulated coolant using a towel. However, he was instructed to vacate the premises promptly after he noticed that some of the liquid had spilled onto a safety tether. He clarified that his suit had not been affected by the coolant.
The tether was safely stored in a sealed pouch and the crew was not at risk of exposure to the coolant. Protocols were implemented to ensure that their spacesuits were free from any potential contamination before re-entering the space station.
The crew monitoring the flight observed particles floating from the location of the radiator. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the particles were actually frozen coolant leaking out.
Kononenko and Chub had a plan to dedicate approximately three hours to documenting the locations of the coolant loop valves. They also intended to make adjustments to isolate the radiator from the supply lines and take photos of the leak site in order to assist engineers in determining the cause of the problem.
At first, Kononenko stated that the radiator is free of debris and there are no visible signs of coolant.
However, he mentioned several “blemishes” on a single radiator panel. After making changes to the valves that separate the radiator from its cooling lines, small amounts of coolant were observed leaking from a connection between two radiator panels.
The individual droplets merged together to create a sizable bubble surrounding the coolant leak. Kononenko mentioned that the bubble was too big to absorb with the towel he had intended to use.
The cause of the coolant line rupture is currently unknown.
Deactivated a Soyuz spacecraft used for transporting crew members.earlier this year.
It is believed that a micrometeoroid impact may have caused the leak in the Soyuz spacecraft. The Russian officials have not made any statements regarding the potential cause of the leaks in the Progress and Nauka radiator. However, it is highly improbable that three separate incidents in similar systems were all caused by micrometeoroids.
After the most recent leak, Russian space agency Roscosmos stated on Telegram that the lab’s main coolant loop was not impacted and that both the crew and the station are safe.
Kononenko and Chub were not planning any sort of repair. Their primary objective was to find and document where the leak might have originated and to isolate the radiator from coolant supply lines to prevent any future problems.