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Small air leak on the space station attributable to the Russian service module

The case of small air leak on the International Space Station it could almost be broken.

Investigators traced the source of the leak to the “main working area” of the Zvezda service module, the heart of the Russian part of the station, NASA officials announced today (Sept. 29).

“Further work is underway to accurately locate the source of the leak,” agency officials wrote in an update today. “The leak, which has been investigated for several weeks, poses no immediate danger to the crew with the current loss rate and only a slight deviation from the crew schedule.”


In the pictures: Expedition 63 mission to the International Space Station

That detour included a wake-up call last night for the three astronauts living aboard the orbiting laboratory, NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The trio collected data with an ultrasonic leak detector across the Russian segment of the station, augmenting measurements previously made on the US side, NASA officials said.

When spaceflight began their work, it seemed the loss had grown. But the apparent increase “has since been attributed to a temporary change in temperature aboard the station, with the overall leak rate remaining unchanged,” NASA officials wrote in the statement.

The leak is causing atmospheric pressure to drop by 1 millimeter every 8 hours, officials from Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, he said via Twitter this morning, also noting that Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner remain safe.

Night checks have been carried out, the hatches between the US and Russian segments are open again, and normal activities resumed aboard the station, NASA officials said in their update.

The International Space Station it is not completely airtight. The orbiting complex continuously loses small amounts of gas into space and is regularly repressurized using nitrogen tanks raised by cargo spacecraft.

In September 2019, station managers noticed a slight increase in the normal background rate. It took a while to fully characterize the leak as crew members and station managers were busy with spacewalks, spacecraft arrivals and departures, and other large orbital activities, NASA officials said. . The investigation into the leaks hasn’t really started until last month.

There are many other important activities on the way. NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will launch at the station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on October 14, and four other crew members are scheduled to head to the orbiting laboratory aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on October 31st. And Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner will return to Earth aboard a Soyuz in October, concluding their six-month orbital sojourn.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

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