Space Station Springs Another Leak, Raising Concerns

This is the 3rd leak in a year on Russian segment of ISS
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2023 2:30 AM CDT
Space Station Springs Another Leak, Raising Concerns
This screen grab from a NASA feed shows a Russian science lab at the International Space Station, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023.   (NASA via AP)

For the third time in a year, the Russian segment of the International Space Station has sprung a coolant leak, adding to concerns about the country's space program. After the Russian space agency Roscosmos on Monday announced the leak from a backup radiator circuit, and flakes of frozen coolant were seen spraying into space on an official live feed, NASA confirmed the primary radiator is functioning normally, no crew members are in danger, and the incident is being assessed. It's not clear yet what caused the leak; late last year, Russia determined another leak was caused by a small object striking the spacecraft, and CNN reports that "debris in orbit is a growing issue." The Guardian notes, however, that "the succession of leaks lowers the probability they were caused by meteorites."

Russia's space program has faltered lately due to funding issues, corruption controversies, and other problems, and one analyst says the coolant leaks add to the list of concerns about the program's stability. "You've got three coolant systems leaking—there's a common thread there. One is whatever, two is a coincidence, three is something systemic," space analyst Jonathan McDowell tells AFP. "It really just emphasizes the degrading reliability of Russian space systems. When you add it to the context of their failed moon probe in August, they're not looking great." (More International Space Station stories.)

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