Crew to continue ‘needle in a haystack’ hunt for active leak causing minor ISS depressurization

This weekend, the crew of Expedition 63 aboard the ISS will continue investigating a “small leak” on the International Space Station. While the ISS is not airtight and the leak was identified months ago, the leak rate has slightly increased and caused some alarms to trigger.

American and Russian crewmates previously shared one half of the space station in an attempt to track down the leak. The current theory is that the leak is on the Russian half of the ISS, but pinpointing the source of the problem has proved challenging thus far.

After analysis, the leak traced back to the main work area of the Zvezda Service Module, although determining the exact location of the leak will require more work. This leak poses no immediate danger and has been on the radar for the crew and NASA for several weeks and has only resulted in a minor inconvenience to the day-to-day schedule.

The leak is causing an atmospheric pressure decrease of 1 millimeter every eight hours, officials with Roscosmos stated.

There were temporary temperature changes onboard caused by the leak and an atmospheric pressure decrease, said Roscosmos via a twitter post. NASA astronaut and station commander Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner moved to the Russian segment for data collections in various locations using an ultrasound leak detector.

There are several missions during the next month for the ISS. Prep work is underway for this weekend’s arrival of the uncrewed Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo craft, scheduled to launch Thursday night from the Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov will launch to the station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft on Oct. 14, and four more crew members scheduled to board the ISS on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon launch.

NASA and SpaceX officials stated on Tuesday that the leak problem poses no risk to upcoming missions.

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