Two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut will remain aboard the International Space Station for an extra six months because of damage to their Russian spacecraft.
Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitry Petelin and Frank Rubio were set to end their six-month stay aboard the ISS in late March, but the Russian space agency Roscosmos said Tuesday the trio will have to remain on the orbital outpost until September.
The Soyuz MS-22 capsule that carried the crew to the ISS last September has been leaking coolant since mid-December, which both Roscosmos and the U.S. space agency NASA have blamed on a micrometeoroid, or space rock, that struck the capsule.
Russia had planned to send an unmanned Soyuz capsule to the ISS earlier this month to bring the crew home, but the launch of that spacecraft was postponed because a Russian Progress MS-21 cargo ship docked at the station was also leaking coolant. That leak has been blamed by officials on an “external impact.”
Prokopyev, Petelin and Rubio were joined on the ISS in October by four astronauts brought by a SpaceX capsule: two Americans, a Russian and a Japanese. The space station will become even more crowded next week when another four person crew, including an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates, is set to arrive.
Some information for this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.