Friday morning dawned with Russia triumphantly launching Soyuz MS 23, after a failed first attempt, on a lifeboat mission to rescue two cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut. The Soyuz MS-23 rescue capsule, which was carrying supplies, was launched from Kazakhstan, the Russian-run Baikonur Cosmodrome to the orbiting lab and is expected to dock with the International Space Station within two days.
Mission of Russia’s Soyuz MS-23
As scheduled, an unmanned spacecraft was launched Friday morning towards the International Space Station (ISS) to replace a damaged craft at the Russian segment that was no longer judged safe to return to Earth and to help the three astronauts with sufficient resources for their survival. The Soyuz spacecraft has been eagerly anticipated by NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, Roscosmos astronauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin. At 3:34 a.m. local time, Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, launched the unmanned Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft from Site 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Scheduled time of returning
The trio is scheduled to stay on the ISS until September, after which they will board the MS-23 and return to Earth. The Soyuz MS-23 was supposed to carry cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub, together with NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara, to the ISS on March 16, 2023, this will be six months longer than anticipated. Sending Prokopyev, Petelin, and Rubio back home right once seemed to be counterproductive since it would leave the ISS with an unneeded staffing gap. The leaking Soyuz MS-22 spaceship will connect with the ISS in March and then return to Earth for more inspections.
The Soyuz MS-23 launched without crew members and merely a “Zero-G indication,” which may be any item left in the cabin and is intended to float freely when the spacecraft reaches microgravity. The signal for this mission is a teddy bear inside the cabin that is attached to a string. This was the Soyuz spacecraft’s first flight of the year and the second Soyuz rocket launch of the year. The Soyuz MS-23 mission’s main objective is to replace the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, which was damaged by a space rock collision in December 2022.
The Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft sent the astronauts to orbit in September of last year, and they were expected to return by the end of March. On December 14 of last year, a planned spacewalk was postponed due to coolant leakage on the MS-22 leaving the crewmates to use the cabin on their return trip at temperatures that were judged dangerous is believed to be caused due to a minor meteoroid strike.
Progress-82 and Soyuz MS-23
Earlier this February, Progress-82 freighter, a Russian cargo ship, suffered a similar coolant leak after docking with the space station. Thus, plans to launch the rescue vehicle Soyuz MS-23 were called into question. Roscosmos said in a statement on the social media platform Telegram t that it would postpone the launch of the Soyuz MS-23 until at least March as it looked into the source of the Progress vehicle’s coolant leak. A close comparison and scrutinization of both Progress and Soyuz took place to come to a better conclusion. But, on Tuesday, Roscosmos revised the Telegram post to say that it had discovered “external factors” were at blame for the Progress spacecraft leak.
NASA and SpaceX Crew-6 mission
Only a few days before the launch of the NASA and SpaceX Crew-6 mission, the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft lifted off. NASA’s Crew-5 astronauts, who left for the space station on a five-month mission on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, will return to Earth shortly after the return of Crew-6 astronauts. This week, representatives from NASA stated that the coolant leaks that occurred on the Soyuz and Progress spacecraft would not affect the SpaceX missions and that no problems of a comparable nature had been found on the Crew Dragon craft.
Involvement in future initiatives
In addition, Roscosmos declared that Russia will continue to participate in the International Space Station until 2028, contradicting Yuri Borisov’s declaration from the previous year that Moscow intended to depart the station after 2024 and concentrate on developing its own orbiting base.