Astronauts Have Found an Oxygen Leak on the ISS, Potentially Caused by a Meteorite

Thursday, 30 August 2018 - 12:45PM
Space
NASA
Thursday, 30 August 2018 - 12:45PM
Astronauts Have Found an Oxygen Leak on the ISS, Potentially Caused by a Meteorite
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Image Credit: Pixabay
Anyone who's seen the infamous CQB episode on The Expanse knows that a hull breach on a spacecraft is a red alert—right? Well, not always. It was recently announced that ground control in Houston picked up on a pressure leak on the International Space Station probably caused my a micro-meteorite. After agreeing that yes, the station was probably hit, and yes, there was probably a hole somewhere in the station, they decided the best course of action would be to let the ISS crew go to bed and deal with it in the morning.

Not as pulse-pounding as The Expanse, huh?

In the morning, the crew woke up and went on a search to find the leak, which was traced to the Soyuz capsule on the Russian side of the station. The air was leaking out of a 1.5 millimeter fracture, which was judged to be fixable by an on-board repair kit. According to Dmitry Rogozin, a member of the Russian crew: "The crew safety is not in danger. The spaceship will be kept, a repair kit will be used."

When it comes to threats to the ISS, micro-meteorites are near the top of the list, along with space junk – according to NASA: "There are more than 20,000 pieces of debris larger than a softball orbiting the Earth. They travel at speeds up to 17,500 mph, fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft." Apart from those two, collisions with other spacecraft during docking, fires aboard the station, and toxic spills are some of the more dangerous things looming over ISS astronauts.

Though ISS astronauts might seem like they're having the time of their lives in space (they recently played the first game of tennis in space), this little run-in with a meteorite is a stark reminder that things could go horribly wrong at a moment's notice. That's why NASA has procedures in place to deal with astronauts who can't deal with the stress.
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