GENERICO.ruScience"Science" began to leak. What's behind another accident on the ISS?

“Science” began to leak. What's behind another accident on the ISS?

MOSCOW, October 10. A coolant leak from a radiator is not the first incident in the Russian sector of the ISS. About why troubles have become more frequent and what exactly happened in the Science module is in the material.

Problem with a backup radiator

On the evening of October 9, the press service of Roscosmos ” reportedabout a leak from the external radiator of the Nauka module of the Russian segment of the ISS. It is emphasized that we are not talking about the main thermal control circuit, which continues to operate normally, but about an additional heat exchanger. There is no threat to the operation of the station and the life of the crew.

“The circuit from which the coolant leaked is a reserve one,” explains cosmonautics historian Alexander Zheleznyakov. “This will not greatly affect the functioning of the ISS, the flight schedule will not have to be adjusted.” .

The additional radiation heat exchanger (RTOd), as this unit is officially called, arrived on the ISS in 2010 as part of the Rassvet small research module. In April 2023, using the ERA manipulator, it was transferred to the Nauka module.
According to information of Roscosmos, comfortable conditions are now being maintained inside the Nauka module and the planned experiments are continuing. In other words, the emergency situation that arose did not in any way affect the life and work of the astronauts.
“There is always someone in the Science module,” says Zheleznyakov. “There are workplaces and places for rest there. The module functions normally. However, any malfunction is unpleasant in itself. Of course, you need to pay attention to it, understand it, why this happened and take appropriate measures. What exactly will become clear after studying the situation.”
The management team is currently analyzing what happened. The first conclusions will appear after inspecting the damaged unit using external cameras, including those installed on the ERA manipulator. After that they will decide what to do. You may need to go into outer space to repair the radiator.

Vulnerable point

Over the past year, there have been two similar incidents on the ISS related to depressurization of the cooling system.

In December 2022, a hole less than one millimeter in size was discovered in the radiator of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the ISS. In this regard, the spacewalk of Russians Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin was postponed. Based on the results of the investigation, the version of the marriage was not confirmed. The commission came to the conclusionthat the radiator was damaged by a meteoroid. The ship itself was undocked and sent to Earth unmanned.
In February 2023, the thermal control system of the Progress MS-21 ship was depressurized. This time the hole was significantly larger – about 12 millimeters, all the refrigerant leaked out. According to the commission's conclusion, Progress MS-21, like the earlier Soyuz MS-22, was subject to external influence.
“No observations that could lead to such an emergency situation have been identified. The reliability reserve of the thermal control system is one year from the moment the spacecraft is launched, so the system is guaranteed to be reliable under the design conditions of its operation,” says the report prepared by RSC Energia, the manufacturer device.
Nevertheless, in order to exclude the possibility of a manufacturing defect, the enterprise analyzed the history of comments on the thermal control system of the Soyuz and Progress spacecraft over the past 15 years. They also planned to conduct a series of ground-based experiments to simulate damage similar to what was detected on Progress MS-21.

Problems with the cooling system were not limited to Russian devices. This is generally a weak spot for spaceships. Ammonia leaks in the US segment cooling circuit occurred in 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2020.

Adventures of “Science”

The history of the ISS module, which later received the name “Science,” dates back to 1995, when at the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, simultaneously with the functional cargo block “Zarya” (the first module of the ISS), its backup was assembled – in case of an unforeseen situation. In 2004, based on it, they decided to make a multifunctional laboratory module for conducting experiments in orbit. The module was restored and modified at RSC Energia.

In 2013, the ISS began preparations for receiving a new module. But the start was constantly postponed – either because of contamination found in pipelines, or because of microcracks in fuel tanks, or because of the need to manufacture additional equipment. The established service life of the module, which is 15 years, has been extended several times.
The launch was initially planned for 2007, but it was postponed many times for various reasons, including lack of funds for construction, as well as due to a change in purpose. Finally, on July 21, 2021, the module was sent into orbit.

Immediately after launch, reports appeared about abnormal operation of various module systems. The head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, in an interview with the media on April 11, said that 13 failures were recorded during the launch into orbit.

The docking took place on July 29, 2021. Before this, Russian cosmonauts on the ISS contacted the Mission Control Center 16 times, and used two satellites for adjustments. A few hours after docking, during the integration of the module into the ISS, an emergency situation occurred again. Suddenly, without external command, the module's attitude thrusters started, causing the entire station to rotate. It was not possible to forcibly turn off the Nauka engines. After 45 minutes, having run out of fuel, they stopped on their own.
Now, according to official information from Roscosmos, the Nauka module is functioning normally. It became one of the largest on the ISS, as well as the fourth scientific module of the station – after the American laboratory “Destiny”, the European “Columbus” and the Japanese “Kibo”.
“All failures that were recorded on the Science module had “local in nature,” notes Zheleznyakov. “The module is working normally and will work as long as it’s supposed to. So far, the plan is 2028. The possibility of an extension until 2030 is being studied. What’s next, we’ll see, we won’t guess.”


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