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Russia’s Nauka science module on the ISS has sprung a leak

Published Oct 10th, 2023 7:03PM EDT
international space station over Earth
Image: dimazel / Adobe

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Another piece of Russian hardware has sprung a leak aboard the International Space Station, according to a post shared by NASA and Roscosmos. The new leak, which is coming from the Nauka science module, appears to be related to an external radiator. The leak was discovered Monday afternoon.

NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli first noticed the coolant leaking from the radiator, creating a snow-like stream of flurries outside the station. The flakes appeared to emanate from one of the two radiators attached to the Nauka science module, which is attached to the Russian segment of the ISS.

Moghbeli and the other station crew members shuttered the US segment from the Russian segment, but further investigation into the leak shows that the astronauts were never in any real danger. Despite the lack of danger, this new leak from the Nauka module calls to question just how reliable Russia’s spacecraft are.

ISS Nauka
Nauka module (left) docked to the International Space Station. Image source: Roscosmos

If this was an isolated incident, it wouldn’t matter as much. However, this is the third time in the past year that Russian hardware has experienced a major leak like this. In December 2022, we saw a leak from the Soyuz MS-22, essentially stranding three astronauts on the ISS for even longer than they had originally planned to be there.

After that, another issue popped up when the Progress MS-21 supply ship attached to the ISS lost pressure in its external cooling system, causing the coolant to leak into space. Now, with the Nauka leak included, this makes three major leaks from Russian hardware aboard the ISS.

Further, Russia’s previous claims say that external impacts led to the past two leaks. Is that going to be the excuse this time? And if so, why don’t we see any issues in other parts of the station? NASA has seemingly gone along with the country’s explanations the past few times, but this third leak does beg the question of just how reliable Russian hardware is in space.

Of course, the ISS is already set to retire in the early 2030s. But NASA is doing everything possible to get more time in the aging space station. But is the station up to those extended years? Is Russia’s hardware? A long meeting between NASA, Roscosmos, and other international partners on the ISS is scheduled for later today, so we’ll hopefully know more about this particular issue soon.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.