Soyuz capsule suffered partial depressurization during April landing

WASHINGTON — A Soyuz spacecraft returning three individuals to Earth in April skilled a partial lack of strain throughout the last levels of its descent, however didn’t put the crew’s lives at risk.

The incident, revealed throughout an Oct. 16 assembly of NASA’s Worldwide Area Station Advisory Committee, is certainly one of a collection of occasions which have raised questions in regards to the reliability of Russian automobiles supporting the station.

Throughout the committee assembly, chairman Thomas Stafford, a former astronaut, mentioned the incident came about when the primary parachute of the Soyuz spacecraft deployed about eight kilometers above the touchdown website in Kazakhstan. A buckle that’s a part of the parachute system struck the capsule.

“The buckle struck a welding seam and, in consequence, there was a depressurizing occasion that resulted in some air escaping the capsule,” he mentioned.

Stafford didn’t establish the particular mission the place this came about, apart from to say that it occurred in April of this 12 months. The one Soyuz spacecraft to return to Earth that month was Soyuz MS-02, which landed April 10. It carried NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, who spent practically six months on the ISS.

NASA spokesman Gary Jordan confirmed Oct. 17 that the incident came about throughout the Soyuz MS-02 touchdown. He referred further questions on it to the Russian state area company Roscosmos, which has not publicly mentioned it up to now.

The partial lack of strain didn’t put the crew in jeopardy, Stafford mentioned. A valve usually opens as soon as the capsule descends to an altitude of 5 kilometers to permit outdoors air into the capsule. The crewmembers had been additionally sporting strain fits, as is commonplace process on Soyuz landings.

“For the reason that crew was suited, the depressurization introduced no subject for the crew,” Stafford mentioned, including that they knew in regards to the subject from sensors within the spacecraft.

At a June assembly of Stafford’s committee with its Russian equal, Stafford mentioned that Russian officers believed that the way in which the parachute was folded contained in the Soyuz could have triggered the buckle to hit the capsule throughout deployment, with the angle of the spacecraft throughout reentry additionally probably enjoying a task.

Stafford mentioned there was no file of an analogous occasion going down in earlier Soyuz landings. “Work has been finished to evaluate the anomaly, and mitigation steps had been applied to make sure it won’t occur sooner or later,” he mentioned.

The incident, whereas minor, is certainly one of a number of in recent times involving Russian automobiles supporting the ISS. Final December, a Progress cargo spacecraft was misplaced when the higher stage of its Soyuz rocket failed. One other Progress was stranded in low Earth orbit, spinning uncontrollably, after an April 2015 launch. It reentered days later with out trying to dock to the ISS.

Stafford mentioned that the investigation of the December 2016 launch failure was hampered by a telemetry system that was not in a position to seize the high-speed anomaly, lasting solely milliseconds, main as much as the failure. Roscosmos has since upgraded that telemetry system to have the ability to higher seize fast occasions, he mentioned, whereas additionally reviewing and updating general quality control for launch car and spacecraft manufacturing.

On Oct. 12, the launch of one other Progress spacecraft on a Soyuz rocket was aborted within the last minute of the countdown, a rarity within the historical past of Soyuz missions to the ISS. That scrub, NASA later mentioned, was as a consequence of {an electrical} connection on one of many launch pad service towers failing to disconnect from the rocket as deliberate, holding the rocket from switching to inner energy.

The Soyuz efficiently launched the Progress two days later, and the cargo spacecraft docked with the ISS on Oct. 16.

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