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Russian Module on International Space Station Leaks Coolant

Russian Module on International Space Station Leaks Coolant
A handout image taken aboard the International Space Station and made available by the European Space Agency shows Hurricane Ida churning in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of its landfall in Louisiana, US, 29 August 2021. (Photo: EPA-EFE / EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY)

(Bloomberg) -- A Russian module attached to the International Space Station sprung a leak on Monday, causing liquid coolant to spew into space, state space corporation Roscosmos said on Telegram on Monday.

The seven crew members on board the ISS aren’t in any danger, Roscosmos and NASA said.

“Teams on the ground will continue to investigate the cause of the leak, and additional updates will be made as available,” a statement from NASA said.

This most recent coolant leak is the third major leak of a Russian-made vehicle to occur at the ISS within the last 12 months. In December, NASA had to postpone a spacewalk after a Russian Soyuz capsule then-docked with the space station started leaking coolant into space. In February, a Russian Progress cargo capsule also docked with the ISS sprung a similar leak.

On Monday, NASA mission controllers in Houston radioed the astronauts on board the space station, asking them if they could look out the window to see if there were any flakes floating outside of the vehicle, according to conversations monitored on NASA’s live audio feed to the space station.

One of the astronauts then confirmed, “Yeah, there’s a leak coming from the radiator of” Russia’s Nauka laboratory module, which was launched to the station in 2021.

NASA mission controllers asked the crew to close the shutters on some of the windows on the station’s domed cupola “as a precaution against contamination.”

Roscosmos said the leak stems from the external backup radiator circuit in the Nauka module and that the main thermal circuit is operating normally. That means the module can be cooled normally without any impacts to the crew or space station operations, NASA said in a statement.

Roscosmos blamed the previous two leaks on external factors, possibly impacts from micrometeoroids, and NASA agreed.

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