Temperature rises on Soyuz, crew not in danger

The temperature on the Soyuz capsule docked with the International Space Station has risen, but the crew is not in danger, Russia’s space agency said on Friday while assessing a leak.

Roscosmos said that after a coolant leak was discovered on the Soyuz MS-22, a series of tests were conducted and the temperature inside the capsule rose to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

On Wednesday, the leak forced the short-term postponement of a spacewalk by cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitry Petelin.

The spacecraft is currently being evaluated to ensure it can carry the two Russian cosmonauts and their American colleague Frank Rubio back to Earth.

In a statement, Roscosmos said the “slight change in temperature” was “not critical to equipment operation and crew comfort.”

Sergei Krikalev, a former cosmonaut who heads the manned spaceflight program for Roscosmos, said the leak could have been caused by a tiny meteorite hitting Soyuz.

Hours of dramatic NASA television images showed white particles resembling snowflakes pouring out of the ship’s stern.

According to NASA, “the bulk of the liquid had leaked out” by Thursday, but the coolant posed no danger to crew members who were not exposed after the spacewalk was aborted.

“Temperatures and humidity inside the Soyuz spacecraft (…) are within acceptable limits,” the American engineers also said.

Air traffic controllers, meanwhile, conducted a “successful test” of the spacecraft’s engines on Friday, NASA said, adding that further assessments are still ongoing.

The spacewalk is now expected to take place on December 21st.

Space has been a rare avenue of cooperation between Moscow and Washington since the start of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in February and subsequent Western sanctions that shattered ties between the two countries.