• Space transport will bring two Russian and one NASA astronauts back to Earth

Spaceship Soyuz MS-23 with no crew on board, which will serve to bring two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut back to Earth instead of the damaged Soyuz MS-22, today docked with the International Space Station. The spacecraft automatically locked onto the Russian segment of the orbital platform at 04:01 Moscow time (01:01 GMT) as scheduled.

The Soyuz MS-23 will return to Earth next September the Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitri Petelin, and the American astronaut of Salvadoran origin Frank Rubio, who have been on the ISS since September 21, 2022, for about six months more than scheduled.

Despite tensions between Russia and the ISS’s Western partners over Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, the space agencies have not stopped cooperating over the past year.

Roscosmos made the decision to discard the Soyuz MS-22 for the return of the Russian-American crew to earth after last December it was detected a leak in the cooling system of the ship Subsequently, on February 11, another refrigerant leak was detected in the Russian space freighter Progress MS-21, which made the Russian space authorities fear that it was a design flaw and forced them to postpone the launch of the Soyuz. MS -23 until it passed a close inspection.

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On February 20, Roscosmos finally authorized the launch of the new ship after ruling out failures in the refrigeration system. The Soyuz MS-23, designed to travel with crew members, carried 429 kilograms of cargo to the ISS, which includes medical equipment, means for cleaning the station and controlling the air purification systems and their balance of gases and the water supply. The cargo also includes food, clothing, spare parts and equipment for the Russian segment of the station. In addition, the spacecraft moved to the orbital platform equipped for various scientific experiments of the Russian space agency.

Crew number 68 is now working on the orbital platform, made up of seven people: the Russians Sergei Prokopiev, Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina; NASA astronauts Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, and Koichi Wakata from Japan.