Crew Plans Quiet Labor Day Weekend After Repair Work

The Soyuz MS-09 crew spacecraft from Roscosmos
The Soyuz MS-09 crew spacecraft from Roscosmos is pictured docked to the Rassvet module as the International Space Station was flying into an orbital night period.

The Expedition 56 crew resumed a regular schedule of work Friday on the International Space Station after spending the day Thursday locating and repairing a leak in the upper section of one of the two Russian Soyuz vehicles attached to the complex.

With the station’s cabin pressure holding steady, most of the crew pressed ahead with a variety of scientific experiments. Station Commander Drew Feustel of NASA prepared tools to be used in a pair of spacewalks late next month to complete the change out of batteries on the port truss of the outpost. Six new lithium-ion batteries will be transported to the station in September on the Japanese HTV Transfer Vehicle, or HTV-7 cargo craft, that will replace a dozen older nickel-hydrogen batteries in a duplication of work conducted last year on the station’s starboard truss.

Flight controllers at the Mission Control Centers in Houston and Moscow, meanwhile, continued to monitor pressure levels on the station following the patching of a small hole Thursday in the orbital module, or upper portion of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. The Soyuz is docked to the Rassvet module on the Earth-facing side of the Russian segment. The tiny hole created a slight loss in pressure late Wednesday and early Thursday before it was repaired by Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos.

The crew plans a quiet weekend before embarking on a busy schedule of research and routine maintenance work next week.

International Space Station Status

Aug. 22, 2018: International Space Station Configuration
International Space Station Configuration as of Aug. 22, 2018: Three spaceships are docked at the space station including the Progress 70 resupply ship and the Soyuz MS-08 and MS-09 crew ships.

The International Space Station’s cabin pressure is holding steady after the Expedition 56 crew conducted repair work on one of two Russian Soyuz spacecraft attached to the complex. The repair was made to address a leak that had caused a minor reduction of station pressure.

After a morning of investigations, the crew reported that the leak was isolated to a hole about two millimeters in diameter in the orbital compartment, or upper section, of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft attached to the Rassvet module of the Russian segment of the station.

Flight controllers at their respective Mission Control centers in Houston and Moscow worked together with the crew to effect a repair option in which Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos used epoxy on a gauze wipe to plug the hole identified as the leak source. As the teams were discussing options, flight controllers in Moscow performed a partial increase of the station’s atmosphere using the ISS Progress 70 cargo ship’s oxygen supply. Flight controllers in Houston are continuing to monitor station’s cabin pressure in the wake of the repair.

Meanwhile, Roscosmos has convened a commission to conduct further analysis of the possible cause of the leak.

Throughout the day, the crew was never in any danger, and was told no further action was contemplated for the remainder of the day. Flight controllers will monitor the pressure trends overnight.

All station systems are stable and the crew is planning to return to its regular schedule of work on Friday.

International Space Station Status

Expedition 56 Crew Members
International Space Station Status
11:20 a.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 30. 2018

The crew aboard the International Space Station is conducting troubleshooting and repair work today after the discovery of a tiny leak last night traced to the Russian segment of the orbital complex.

The leak, which was detected Wednesday night by flight controllers as the Expedition 56 crew slept, resulted in a small loss of cabin pressure. Flight controllers determined there was no immediate danger to the crew overnight. Upon waking at their normal hour, the crew’s first task was to work with flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston and at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow to locate the source of the leak.

The leak has been isolated to a hole about two millimeters in diameter in the orbital compartment, or upper section, of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft attached to the Rassvet module of the Russian segment. This is a section of the Soyuz that does not return to Earth.

The rate of the leak was slowed this morning through the temporary application of Kapton tape at the leak site. Flight controllers are working with the crew to develop a more comprehensive long-term repair.

Once the patching is complete, additional leak checks will be performed. All station systems are stable, and the crew is in no danger as the work to develop a long-term repair continues.

International Space Station Status

Expedition 56 Crew Members
International Space Station Status
6 a.m. EDT Thursday, Aug. 30. 2018

About 7 p.m. EDT Wednesday, International Space Station flight controllers in Houston and Moscow began seeing signs of a minute pressure leak in the complex.

As flight controllers monitored their data, the decision was made to allow the Expedition 56 crew to sleep since they were in no danger. When the crew was awakened at its normal hour this morning, flight controllers at Mission Control in Houston and at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow began working procedures to try to determine the location of the leak.

The six crew members, station Commander Drew Feustel, Flight Engineers Ricky Arnold and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, gathered in the Russian segment of the station and, after extensive checks, reported that the leak appears to be on the Russian side of the orbital outpost.

Program officials and flight controllers are continuing to monitor the situation as the crew works through its troubleshooting procedures.

Russian Cargo Ship Leaves Station After Six-Month Stay

The Russian Progress 69 resupply ship approaches the aft end of the Zvezda service module
The Russian Progress 69 (69P) resupply ship approaches the aft end of the Zvezda service module where it docked Feb. 15, 2018.

Loaded with trash, the Russian Progress 69 cargo craft undocked from the aft port of the Zvezda Service Module at 9:16 p.m. CDT, 10:16 p.m. EDT, completing a six-month delivery run to the International Space Station.

The unpiloted Progress will move to a safe distance from the orbital laboratory for a week’s worth of engineering tests by Russian flight controllers before it is commanded to deorbit next Wednesday night. It will then burn up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

The next Progress cargo ship to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Progress 71, is scheduled in late October.