ACCESS: Above Top Secret
- Jan 21, 2015
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WASHINGTON — A Soyuz spacecraft returning three people to Earth in April experienced a partial loss of pressure during the final stages of its descent, but did not put the crew’s lives in danger.
The incident, revealed during an Oct. 16 meeting of NASA’s International Space Station Advisory Committee, is one of a series of events that have raised questions about the reliability of Russian vehicles supporting the station.
During the committee meeting, chairman Thomas Stafford, a former astronaut, said the incident took place when the main parachute of the Soyuz spacecraft deployed about eight kilometers above the landing site in Kazakhstan. A buckle that is part of the parachute system struck the capsule.
“The buckle struck a welding seam and, as a result, there was a depressurizing event that resulted in some air escaping the capsule,” he said.
Stafford didn’t identify the specific mission where this took place, other than to say that it happened in April of this year. The only Soyuz spacecraft to return to Earth that month was Soyuz MS-02, which landed April 10. It carried NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, who spent nearly six months on the ISS.
NASA spokesman Gary Jordan confirmed Oct. 17 that the incident took place during the Soyuz MS-02 landing. He referred additional questions about it to the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, which has not publicly discussed it to date.