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Cosmonauts repair small air leak on the International Space Station: reports

Cosmonauts are making progress in the fight against small air leak who besieged the International Space Station for months, according to Russian reports.

The leak was first detected in September 2019 but was too low a priority for NASA and Roscosmos to address until August this year, given the low staff and high activity rates in the orbiting laboratory, according to one. previous statement from the US space agency. In August, NASA announced some measures that Roscosmos, the Russian counterpart of the US agency, was undertaking trace the location of the leak. These steps included two crew weekend sleepovers on the Russian segment to isolate station components. At no time did the leak threaten the space station or the astronauts living there, according to statements by both agencies.

Now, cosmonauts on the space station report that they tracked the leak yesterday (October 1

5) and attempted to repair it, according to reports from the Russian government-owned news service, Tass.

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The leak is in a compartment of the Russian Zvezda module, as previous work on the orbiting laboratory had suggested. Russian cosmonaut Ivan Vagner, who has lived in the facility since April, called it a “scratch,” according to the Tass report, which also suggested that the crew used a tea bag to track down the exact location of the leak but did not provided further details on the process.

The cosmonauts also attempted to repair the loss, but theirs reports to mission control today (Oct. 16) suggest it may not hold up, Tass reported: The air leak has slowed, but the module is still losing pressure, according to their measurements. The crew suggested contacting their American colleagues – currently Chris Cassidy and Kate Rubins – for a different type of patch mechanism.

“Maybe we should try the difficult patches our partners have? We can talk to them. This is because the current patch is not that efficient,” said the cosmonauts. according to the Tass report.

Meanwhile, Roscosmos is now facing a failed oxygen supply system on the same module, according to AFP. The system failed on Wednesday (Oct. 14), after three new crew members moved in that morning and posed no threat to the crew, a Roscosmos representative told AFP.

Both themes represent the orbiting laboratory showing its age: the station has been constantly manned for nearly 20 years, and the oldest parts of the complex were launched in 1998.

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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