Russia reports coolant leak in backup line at space station and says crew not in danger

By Isaac M October 10, 2023

Coolant leaked from a backup line at the International Space Station, Russian officials said Monday, adding that there was no risk to the crew or the outpost.

Russian space agency Roscosmos said that coolant leaked from an external backup radiator for Russia’s new science lab. The lab’s main thermal control system was working normally, the agency emphasized.

“The crew and the station aren’t in any danger,” Roscosmos said.

NASA confirmed that there is no threat to the station’s crew of seven and that operations are continuing as usual.

Roscosmos said engineers were investigating the cause of the leak. The incident follows recent coolant leaks from Russian spacecraft parked at the station. Those leaks were blamed on tiny meteoroids.

The lab — named Nauku, which means science — arrived at the space station in July 2021.

Last December, coolant leaked from a Soyuz crew capsule docked to the station, and another similar leak from a Progress supply ship was discovered in February. A Russian investigation concluded that those leaks likely resulted from hits by tiny meteoroids, not manufacturing flaws.

The Soyuz leak resulted in an extended stay for NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and his two Russian crewmates, Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, who spent 371 days in orbit instead of six months. A replacement capsule was sent to the station for their ride home.

The space station, which has served as a symbol of post-Cold War international cooperation, is now one of the last remaining areas of cooperation between Russia and the West amid the tensions over Moscow’s military action in Ukraine. NASA and its partners hope to continue operating the orbiting outpost until 2030.

Current residents are: NASA’s astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara, the European Space Agency’s Andreas Mogensen, Russian cosmonauts Konstantin Borisov, Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub and Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa.

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