A Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked at night from Saturday to Sunday at the International Space Station to serve, next September, as a vehicle for the return of two Russian astronauts and an American astronaut to Earth, after their initial spacecraft was damaged.
The MS-23 rescue vehicle took off Friday morning from Kazakhstan, with no one on board, and arrived at the space station after a journey of about two days, according to a live video broadcast from NASA.
American Frank Rubio, as well as Russians Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petline, took off at the end of September 2022 aboard Soyuz MS-22. But in December, this ship suffered a spectacular leak while docked with the International Space Station, due, according to Moscow, to the impact of a small meteor.
So the Russian Space Agency decided that it could only be used in emergency situations, and chose to send the MS-23 spacecraft as an alternative.
The three crew members’ mission has been extended through September, and so they will be back aboard this replacement ship after spending nearly a year in space.
The damaged MS-22 ship must be ejected from the International Space Station and returned to Earth empty, in advance of the end of next month.
In addition to the three crew members who came aboard the Soyuz, the International Space Station currently has four other passengers, who arrived with the SpaceX ship and are members of the mission called Crew-5. They are due to be joined next week by Crew-6, which includes two Americans, an Emirati and a Russian, and is scheduled to take off from Florida, US, Sunday night through Monday.
After delivering for a few days, Crew-5 will return to Earth