Moscow, Russia (AFP)
The head of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency on Tuesday hailed Russian-US cooperation on the International Space Station after a major coolant leak from a Soyuz crew capsule.
“Greetings to the entire American team. They proved themselves very worthy in this situation and helped us,” Borisov said in conversation with the Russian crew on board the ISS. “But I hope that we will be able to do this on our own in the future.”
“You give the whole world an example of how to work together in the most challenging and difficult situations. Let many politicians learn from you,” he added, according to a transcript released by Roscosmos.
Space has remained a rare avenue of cooperation between Moscow and Washington since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions against Russia.
The ISS was launched in 1998 at a time of increased cooperation between the US and Russia following their Cold War space race competition.
Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin and US astronaut Frank Rubio flew from Kazakhstan to the ISS on September 21 in a Soyuz rocket.
They are scheduled to be returned to Earth in March.
The coolant leak reported Thursday forced the two Russians to cancel a routine spacewalk at short notice and could potentially affect the three crew members’ return flight to Earth.
“I hope the little incident we had with the temperature control system didn’t spoil your mood and serenity,” Borisov said.
“Let’s hope your mission ends on schedule.”
Roscosmos and the US space agency NASA said the leak from the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft posed no danger to people on board the ISS.
Roscosmos said Monday that it had “stabilized” at around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) after an initial temperature spike in the Soyuz capsule.
It added that the cause of the leak was being determined and that a special commission would decide whether the capsule could be used to bring the astronauts back to Earth.
Borisov said if the Soyuz MS-22 was deemed unsuitable for this mission, another ship would have to be sent to the ISS.
NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina were flown to the ISS aboard a SpaceX spacecraft in October.
© Agence France-Presse