International Space Station

Crew-8 Arrives at the ISS, Despite a Crack in the Capsule

Space travel seems to be a fairly regular occurrence now with crews hopping up and down to the International Space Station. This week, another crew arrived on board a SpaceX Dragon capsule known as Endeavour.  On board were NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps along with cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin. The ISS already had seven people on board so this brought the total crew to eleven. The launch almost got cancelled due to a crack in the hatch seal. 

The construction of the International Space Station began in 1998 with the launch of the Zarya module on 20 November. It was finally completed in when the final Russian research module Rassvet was added in in May 2010 with the station completed in 2011. Despite not being finished until then, the first crew, known as Expedition 1 arrived on 2 November 2000 and it has been occupied ever since. 

International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Now completed, the station is 109m x 73m and has 16 pressurised modules within which the crew live, sleep and conduct experiments while orbiting the Earth. Getting to and from the ISS is never an easy mission, after all you can’t just nip up to it on a whim, at least not yet – I’m sure in the future this will be a thing but alas not just yet. Currently the only way to the ISS is either the SpaceX Dragon capsule or in the case of the Russian cosmonauts, the Soyuz module. 

The latest team, Crew 8, launched from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Centre around 4am on Monday 4th March. They have joined the Expedition 70 crew comprising of Jasmin Moghbeli, Loral O’Hara, from ESA (European Space Agency) Andreas Mogensen from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Agency) Satoshi Furukawa, and cosmonauts Konstantin Borisov, Oleg Kononenko, and Nikolai Chub. The trip to ISS however, nearly got scrubbed 30 mins before launch!

The engineer team completing the final checks of the hatch and its sealing systems noticed a crack when documenting the findings. It may sound serious and to be fair, I wouldn’t want to fly into space with something that had a dodgy seal. The crack the team identified though was in a silicon like sealant that was a top coating to the hatch pressure seal which itself is over the main seal for the hatch. Fortunately, the silicon like material (known as RTV) expands under heating so it was hoped it would seal itself on launch. 

Fortunately, and as history now shows, the launch was successful and Crew 8 arrived at the ISS safe and sound and ready to get on with their work on board what is the worlds most expensive but fascinating laboratory. 

Source : Four Crew-8 Members Enter Station for Six-Month Mission
Mark Thompson

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