Cosmonauts struggle with air supply problems in Russian part of International Space Station (ISS) because of a leak. The space travelers now had to find the leak, because the oxygen reserves were getting smaller, reported the state agency Tass after a switch between the ISS and the control center in Moscow. It is not clear where exactly the leak is located in a transition to the module "Zvezda" ("Star"), said an expert on Earth. The problem with air leakage and prere drop in the module has existed since August.
Time is running out, the problem must be solved, said the flight control center. Cosmonaut Sergei Ryzhkov on the ISS said that the air was leaking from a passage to the module "Zvezda" evade. It is unclear exactly where. Discussions are now underway to hermetically seal off this part of the module so as not to endanger the air supply. This will affect the work on the ISS, it said.
Searching for leaks with tea bags
"Everything is under control", said the head of the Russian space agency Roskosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, on Saturday. "There are still reserves", he appeased. In February also fly a new "Progress"-space freighter with oxygen reserves. Should it be necessary to supply additional oxygen to the ISS, U.S. partners at Nasa could deliver oxygen using their own unmanned transporter.
As early as October, the crew believed that they would be able to find a new home in a transitional part of the "Swesda"-module to have found the crack. The astronauts had used a tea bag for this purpose, which moved towards the leak in weightlessness. The hole, about 4.5 centimeters long, was plugged. The cause of the leak was unclear. Later it turned out that air continued to escape. Even a space mission in November did not bring more clarity.
"Time for retirement"
Russia’s space agency Roskosmos had always stressed that there was no immediate danger to the crew of the ISS. Space chief Rogozin said there was constant contact with the crew. According to his presentation, small meteorites could impact the body of the station and "Investigation processes" of the metal accelerate. Some of the modules produced in Soviet times – some 30 years ago – were intended to be used for only 15 years.
The station now let it be known: "It is time for me to retire", said Rogozin. Although the wounds were further "go healed"; but it is coming to an end. That’s why a new human eagle post is now being considered. Rogosin meinte, dass die ISS noch bis 2024 sicher durchhalte, vielleicht auch bis 2028.
The space station, which is more than 20 years old, is subject to repeated breakdowns. Most recently, there have also been problems with the power supply and the toilet facilities. There are currently seven astronauts – two Russians, four Americans and one Japanese – on the station, which is located about 400 kilometers above the Earth.