Small air leak on space station traced to Russian service module but the exact location remains unknown
The case of the small air leak on the International Space Station may be nearly cracked. Investigators have traced the source of the leak to the “main work area” of the Zvezda Service Module, the heart of the Russian part of the station, NASA officials announced today (Sept. 29). “Additional work is underway to precisely locate the source of the leak,” agency officials wrote in an update today. “The leak, which has been investigated for several weeks, poses no immediate danger to the crew at the current leak rate and only a slight deviation to the crew’s schedule.” The leak is causing an atmospheric pressure decrease of 1 millimetre every 8 hours, officials with Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, said via Twitter this morning. They also stressed that NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who have been living onboard the orbiting lab, remain safe.
The International Space Station is not completely airtight. The orbiting complex continuously loses tiny amounts of gas to space and is regularly repressurized using nitrogen tanks brought up by cargo spacecraft. In September 2019, station managers noticed a slight uptick in that normal background rate. It took a while to characterize the leak fully, because crewmembers and station managers were occupied with spacewalks, spacecraft arrivals and departures, and other big-ticket orbital activities, NASA officials have said. The leak investigation didn’t really get going until last month.