According to a new NASA statement published on Friday (25), the crew of Expedition 63 will have to spend the weekend again on board the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS), due to the search for the origin of a slight but significant air leak. Thus, all hatches of the orbital laboratory will be closed this weekend.
The procedure will be done so that the mission controllers monitor the air pressure in each module and, thus, are able to locate the source of the leak. Meanwhile, US commander Chris Cassidy, with cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin, will stay on the Russian service module Zvezda from the night of this Friday (25) until the morning of the next Monday (28), and the tests that carried out do not pose a risk to the crew.
In his Twitter account, Cassidy explained that he and Ivanishin have already analyzed the structure of the windows to look for signs of the leak with an ultrasonic detector, but were unsuccessful.
Both Moscow and Houston Mission Control Centers have been tracking a tiny air leak for several months. A few weeks ago our crew isolated in the Russian segment of @Space_Station and closed as many hatches as possible in order to identify the location of the leak. pic.twitter.com/euJfQ6wuvF
— Chris Cassidy (@Astro_SEAL) September 24, 2020
In fact, this whole procedure has been part of a work in progress for some time: in August, the space agency reported the occurrence of a small air leak at the station and carried out a similar procedure to find the source of the leak. As the ISS is not completely airtight, it is normal for some air to leak, but this case was slightly above normal levels – although it is still within what is considered safe. In that episode, the crew also had to spend a few days in the Russian segment of the orbital laboratory. The leak had already been detected in 2019 by NASA.
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