Damaged Russian space capsule back on earth

A micrometeorite is believed to have caused the leak on the Russian space capsule. Now the defective Soyuz MS-22 has returned to Earth – without astronauts, but with sensitive cargo.

The Russian Soyuz space capsule, which was damaged after a meteorite impact, returned to Earth from the ISS space station on Tuesday as planned without a crew. After a picture-perfect flight, the Soyuz MS-22 with more than 200 kilograms of cargo on board landed in the steppes of the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan. The Russian space agency Roskosmos broadcast the maneuver live on the Internet.

Less than two hours after undocking from the ISS, the capsule landed around 147 kilometers southeast of the city of Scheskasgan. Although there are no cosmonauts and astronauts on board, there are scientific devices and research results – including a battery for a space suit, experiments on the cultivation of mushroom cultures and the production of probiotic drinks.

Because of the sensitive cargo, the capsule had to be brought to the ground gently. Roskosmos showed how a parachute initially opened under a cloudless sky to slow down the fall of the capsule. Just before hitting the ground, speed control motors started up. On impact, a cloud could be seen through the ground particles thrown up. A helicopter was also used for the rescue. The capsule is now to be examined.

A leak was discovered a few months ago on the Soyuz capsule – according to Russian sources it was probably caused by a micrometeorite. This also delayed the return of the two Russians Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin and the American Frank Rubio, who arrived at the space station in September with the MS-22. It is now planned that they will fly back on September 27th with the replacement spacecraft MS-23, which has meanwhile arrived.

Even before their return, the outpost of humanity at an altitude of around 400 kilometers will be reinforced by three new astronauts. According to Roscosmos, the flight of the Soyuz MS-24 space capsule with cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolay Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara is already scheduled for September 15.

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