Air leaks in the Russian ISS module are getting worse

NASA has been tracking a leak on the Russian module of the International Space Station, which has been leaking air into space at an increasing rate for almost four years. The agency acknowledged the leak was growing but said it did not pose a threat to the astronauts on board.



The leak rate in the Zvezda life support module has doubled from 0.5 kg per day to “just over 1 kg per day,” NASA ISS program manager Joel Montalbano said at a briefing Wednesday, according to SpacePolicyOnline.


Roscosmos first reported a leak in August 2020 in the Russian Zvezda life support module launched by Russia into low Earth orbit in July 2000. The leak occurs in the connection compartment between the docking station and the rest of the module. Zvezda houses vital support systems and crews use it as a critical center in emergency situations.



The rate of leakage increased about a week before the Feb. 14 launch of the Progress MS-26 cargo ship, which docked at the back of Zvezda. The hatch between the module and the ISS remained open for five days while the crew unloaded cargo, and then was closed.


On Wednesday, Roscosmos also confirmed the leak, adding that its crew regularly searches for the source of possible leaks on the ISS and troubleshoots problems. As reported by the TASS agency , according to Roscosmos, the leak poses no threat to either the crew or the station itself.


NASA also stressed that the crew and the ISS are safe for now.


Teams are watching this. We are working with our Russian colleagues on the next steps. This does not affect the safety of the crew or the functioning of the ISS.


This is not the first leak discovered on Russian equipment on the ISS. In December 2022, ground services observed a fountain of particles emerging from the docked Soyuz spacecraft. In February 2023, shortly after docking with the ISS, a Russian cargo ship also experienced a coolant leak. In October 2023, a coolant leak began from a backup radiator on the external surface of the Russian Nauka module. In Russia, this was associated with external mechanical influences, but three consecutive incidents hinted at potential manufacturing defects.


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