Soyuz MS-22 at the International Space Station Springs a Leak

Here is eight minutes of Leak-O-Vision from NASA TV.

The leak caused cancellation of a planned Russian spacewalk from the station.




During the Skylab missions between August 1973 and February 1974, NASA prepared a “Skylab Rescue Mission” which would have launched if a Skylab crew were unable to return in the Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) that launched them to the station. An Apollo CSM, modified with five seats, would have launched on a Saturn 1B (AS 209 / CSM 119) with two astronauts on board to dock with Skylab and return the stranded crew. During the Skylab 3 mission, a thruster leak in the reaction control system of the crew’s CSM raised the possibility a rescue might be required and the rescue crew began training for such a mission. NASA eventually decided the rescue was unnecessary and the mission was never flown. The Skylab 3 crew returned safely in their original spacecraft.

It probably wouldn’t take SpaceX long to put together a Crew Dragon mission to bring home the Soyuz MS-22 crew. Since Crew Dragon can dock autonomously with the ISS, no modification to add extra seats would be necessary and, since it has four seats, if they wanted to launch it with one astronaut for backup, they’d still have three seats for the Soyuz crew.


Here is the NASA media teleconference announcing the decision to launch a replacement Soyuz to return the MS-22 crew. Participants are:

  • Joel Montalbano, International Space Station program manager, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • Sergei Krikalev, Human Space Flight Programs executive director, Roscosmos

Monalbano says NASA agrees with Roscosmos that the most likely cause for the leak was a micrometeroid impact, estimated as a 1 millimetre impactor at around 7 km/sec.


Anatoly Zak of Russian Space Web reports, “Soyuz MS-22 lands without crew”.

According to the Russian mission control, Soyuz MS-22 undocked from the ISS at 12:57:27 Moscow Time, on March 28, 2023, and two and half minutes later, the spacecraft performed its station-separation burn, as the two vehicles were flying over Northern China.

The Descent Module of the spacecraft then performed seemingly flawless landing under cloudless skies and in view of the recovery team cameras. After the touchdown, the capsule ended up on its side, probably due to high winds in the area. Ground recovery vehicles and helicopters reached the module within seconds after landing.

According to NASA, the touchdown took place at 7:46 a.m. EDT (5:46 p.m. local time in Kazakhstan) 91 miles southeast of Zhezkazgan. The Russian mission control put the landing at 14:45:58 Moscow Time, 147 kilometers southeast of Zhezkazgan.

After landing, the official TASS news agency quoted Sergei Krikalev, Executive Director for Piloted Program at Roskosmos, as saying that initial data indicated that thermal conditions aboard Soyuz MS-22 during landing were better than worst-case scenarios predicted for the flight with the disabled thermal control system.

At the start of the landing video, the vapour you see coming from the descent module is the hydrogen peroxide attitude thruster monopropellant being vented before landing to avoid hazard to the recovery crew. Once the capsule is in the atmosphere, there is no further need for the attitude thrusters so their fuel is dumped.

Instead of the usual two and half hours between undocking from the International Space Station and landing, an expedited schedule of only 55 minutes was used for this return to minimise potential overheating due to the disabled cooling system on the Soyuz.

Touchdown occurs at the 13:20 mark in the video. The huge dust cloud at landing is thrown up by the retrorockets that cushion the touchdown; while some astronauts who have flown on Souyz liken the landing to being in a car wreck, it is far less violent that it looks.