An uncontrollable leak on a Soyuz rocket forces Russia to cancel ISS spacewalk

Operators observed a "visible stream of flakes" coming from the Russian rocket.
Chris Young
International Space Station.
International Space Station.


Russia has canceled a planned spacewalk with two Russian cosmonauts currently stationed at the International Space Station (ISS) due to "significant leaking of an unknown substance" coming from a Russian Soyuz rocket docked at the orbital station, NASA explains on its website.

The "visible stream of flakes" was first observed at around 7:45 pm EST, and its footage was shared on the NASA TV live stream viewable on YouTube.

Operators are yet to confirm the substance coming from the Soyuz rocket, though they suspect it is a cooling substance.

Russia aborts planned spacewalk due to Soyuz leak

The leak caused Russia to abort a spacewalk that had already been delayed in late November due to faulty cooling pumps in the cosmonauts' spacesuits.

"Tonight's spacewalk has been canceled because of an observed leak of what is believed to be a cooling substance from the Soyuz MS-22," Nasa commentator Rob Navias explained during the live broadcast from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"We noticed a visible stream of flakes coming from the aft of the Soyuz near the instrumentation and propulsion module that was indicative of a leak," he added. The video clip above shows the stream of white particles spraying from the rear of the spacecraft.

The leak was reportedly discovered just before Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dimitri Petelin got into their spacesuits for their spacewalk, which had been scheduled to move a radiator from one Russian module of the ISS to another.

In another update on its website, NASA explained that "the crew members aboard the space station are safe and were not in any danger during the leak."

Russian operators are now assessing whether Soyuz is flyable

The Soyuz spacecraft in question is a Soyuz MS-22 rocket. It is the same one that carried NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin into space after launching from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on September 21.

According to a report by The Guardian, an official from Russia's mission control near Moscow was heard telling the two astronauts that their spacewalk had been canceled until further notice. In a tweet, Ars Technica Senior Space Editor Eric Berger wrote that the Soyuz rocket "stopped leaking last night after all of the coolant was gone. Russian specialists are now assessing impacts on other Soyuz systems to determine whether the craft is flyable."

NASA's latest update explained that cosmonaut Anna Kikina was using the European robotic arm to inspect the Soyuz rocket, which is docked with the Russian Rassvet module on the ISS. Stay posted for more updates on the Soyuz leak and whether the Russian spacecraft will still be able to carry people back to Earth from the ISS.

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