The Russians come to the aid of the Americans. This is a scenario that does not take place on Earth, but in space. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked in the night from Saturday to Sunday to the International Space Station to serve, next September, as a vehicle for the return to Earth of two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut, whose initial spacecraft was damaged.
The MS-23 rescue spacecraft lifted off Friday morning from Kazakhstan, with no one on board, and reached the space station after a journey of about two days, according to a live video broadcast from NASA.
The American Frank Rubio as well as the Russians Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitri Petelin, had taken off at the end of September 2022 with the Soyuz MS-22. But in December, this spacecraft suffered a spectacular leak while docked to the ISS, due according to Moscow to the impact of a micrometeorite. The Russian space agency therefore decided that it could only be used in an emergency, and chose to send the MS-23 spacecraft as a replacement.
Mission extended until September
The mission of the three crew members has been extended until September, and they will return to this replacement spacecraft after spending about a year in space. The damaged MS-22 spacecraft is to be undocked from the ISS and return to Earth empty, a priori at the end of next month.
In addition to the three crew members who came aboard the Soyuz, the ISS currently has four other passengers, who arrived with a spacecraft from SpaceX and were members of the mission called Crew-5. They are to be joined next week by Crew-6, which includes two Americans, an Emirati and a Russian, and whose takeoff is scheduled for the night from Sunday to Monday from Florida, in the United States. After a few days, Crew-5 will descend back to Earth.