The Russian spacecraft Soyuz MS-24 with a new crew may go to the ISS three months earlier than planned. According to Izvestia, Roscosmos can take such a step so that representatives of the current mission – Sergey Prokopiev, Dmitry Petelin and Frank Rubio – do not have to stay at the station for almost a year due to the breakdown of the Soyuz MS- 22, as well as the cargo Progress MS-21.
Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut arrived at the ISS in September 2022 and were supposed to return to Earth on March 28, 2023 on the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, on which they flew to the ISS. The crew of the Soyuz MS-23 was supposed to replace them, however, this device was launched to the ISS in an unmanned mode as a replacement for the broken Soyuz MS-22. In order not to leave the station understaffed, the return of the current crew was postponed until September, when a replacement crew consisting of Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara will arrive to replace him on the Soyuz MS-24.
According to Izvestia sources, RSC Energia is already discussing the possibility of postponing the Soyuz MS-24 launch scheduled for September 15 to June 7 – this will allow changing three crew members three months earlier than planned after the incident. However, so far all the documents indicate exactly the autumn launch. “The official decision on the launch date of the Soyuz MS-24 TPK will be made by the State Commission, about which the state corporation will inform,” the publication quotes the commentary of Roskosmos.
Izvestia’s interlocutors attribute the possibility of postponing the Soyuz MS-24 launch to an earlier date with the desire to send part of the current ISS crew to Earth as soon as possible, as well as with the doubts of some experts about the officially announced reasons for two emergency situations at the station – sequential depressurization of systems spacecraft Soyuz MS-22 and Progress MS-21. After the failure of the cooling system on the cargo Progress MS-21 on February 11, the situation became even more tense – although, according to preliminary data, in both cases we are talking about damage by space bodies, and manufacturing defects are not excluded.
If the latest version is confirmed, it may turn out that the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft, which arrived to return the team to Earth, also has a problem. Judging by the “statistics” that have already appeared, about 3 months pass from the moment the ship arrives at the ISS until the leak incident, and if the Soyuz MS-23 has the same defect, it can fail long before the time for the return of people and break down in early summer, therefore, the earlier arrival of the Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft is fully justified.
However, one of the important reasons for the early arrival of the shift may not be a technical defect, but the need to return people to Earth as soon as possible due to possible psychological problems due to a delay in space for an additional six months. In any case, specialists are confident that the astronauts will cope with the mission, since psychologically stable people, motivated and ready for surprises, are allowed to fly. As for physical health, experts are confident that it will not suffer during a year in space, as training prepares for such long missions.
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