Week 2, 2023: Soyuz MS-23 to Launch Uncrewed, Extending ISS Expedition to a Full Year

Animation of Soyuz MS-22 leaking off coolant in 2022-Dec-15

On January 11, 2023 Roscosmos ultimately decided to launch Soyuz MS-23 without a crew by February 20th to replace Soyuz MS-22, which was concluded to be unsafe for crew return after suffering a coolant leak on 2022-Dec-15 caused by orbital debris or micrometeoroid strike. The current seven-person crew aboard the ISS are all perfectly safe despite the incident. This will also be the first time an uncrewed Soyuz spacecraft replaced another one in orbit since the Soyuz 32 and Soyuz 34 missions aboard Salyut 6 in 1979

The crew of Soyuz MS-22. (From left) Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin

For context, Soyuz MS-22 launched to the ISS on 2022-Sept-21, with Sergei Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, and Frank Rubio as part of the station's Expedition 67/68 crew. The original crew of Soyuz MS-23 (Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and Frank Rubio) were subsequently reassigned to Soyuz MS-24. Since another replacement Soyuz spacecraft would not be available for another seven months, the MS-22 crew will inadvertently become the fourth crew to stay aboard the ISS for an entire year when they finally return to Earth aboard MS-23 on September 2023

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Source: SpaceNews

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