Let them come home!!
Stuck On You
Last summer, a former NASA administrator quipped to Futurism that Russia's spacecraft are held together "with baling wire and duct tape" — and per the latest on Roscosmos' damaged Soyuz capsule, it seems like that assessment may have been dead on.
In a statement, NASA cryptically announced the plan to retrieve Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio "is under review" as they wait aboard the International Space Station for someone to come pick them up in the wake of return craft issues. Translation: it may be a while yet before those professional space travelers get to come back home to Earth.
The news comes after the second time in recent months that a Russian spacecraft has sprung a leak, after an issue on another Soyuz capsule postponed the Space Station denizens' return flight late last year.
This latest postponement, it seems, is borne of an abundance of caution after an unmanned Russian cargo ship was found to have a similar coolant leak issue to the Soyuz craft that was meant to bring the astronauts home just before Christmas.
In its statement, NASA declined to put a date on the again-postponed ISS return flight that was scheduled for February 19, which leaves the question of when those poor astronauts will get to come home.
During a press conference last month, NASA space station program manager Joel Montalbano said if they have to, the crew aboard the ISS currently are "prepared to stay until the September launch date if that’s the case."
His counterpart, Roscosmos' Sergei Krikalev, was, in peak Russian fashion, decidedly less optimistic in his framing.
"We will probably extend the stay of this crew, Expedition 68, on the station for an extra several months," Krikalev said. "What will be the exact date to send replacements for them is not decided yet, but it’s going to be several months longer mission."
Whether preparing for the worst or hoping for the best, it now seems pretty clear that Petelin, Prokopyev, and Rubio will be forced to stay on the ISS for significantly longer than they were supposed to — that is, if NASA and Roscomos can figure out what in the heavens is happening with these coolant leaks.
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