Watch Russia’s replacement Soyuz capsule arrive at space station tonight in this livestream (Image Credit: Space.com)
A replacement Soyuz capsule for three International Space Station astronauts will dock with the orbiting complex Saturday (Feb. 25), and you can watch it live.
The replacement Russian Soyuz spacecraft, called MS-23, is expected to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) Saturday at 8:01 p.m. EST (0101 GMT Sunday, Feb. 26) and will be carried live here at Space.com, via NASA Television (opens in new tab). The live webcast will begin at 7:15 p.m. EST (2315 GMT). The docked Soyuz will replace a damaged crew spacecraft docked at the ISS, called MS-22.
Should MS-23 arrive as expected, the Soyuz will serve as the new ride home for cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio following a launch on Thursday (Feb. 23) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:24 p.m. EST (0024 GMT or 3:34 a.m. local time Friday, Feb. 24).
Coincidentally, NASA is planning launch of its own soon with more ISS crew members: a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is expected to lift off on Monday (Feb. 27) at 1:45 a.m. EST (0645 GMT) with four people on board. That event will also be carried live here at Space.com, via NASA Television (opens in new tab).
The trio of Expedition 69 astronauts have been without a nominal spacecraft since Dec. 14, when their planned Soyuz to return home (MS-22) sprung a coolant leak. Russia has been moving things around to get a new Soyuz available for the crew and has made several schedule changes this past week in response to recent events.
At first, MS-23 was supposed to launch in the spring with people on board, but early in 2022 Russian federal space agency Roscosmos initially elected to accelerate its launch to Feb. 19 without people, to allow for three seats for the stuck MS-22 crew.
In case of contingency requiring ISS evacuation, Roscosmos determined it would be feasible to put the two cosmonauts in the MS-22 craft (as two people on board heat up the spacecraft to a lesser degree than three.) NASA said they could create an extra seat for Rubio on the SpaceX Crew-5 Dragon spacecraft, which has four seats already occupied by other Expedition 69 crew members.
Then another Russian craft, a Progress 82 freighter, sprung a coolant leak of its own on Feb. 11 and forced some changes in launching MS-23. At first, Roscosmos said it would delay the launch until March to allow for investigation time.
But the investigation showed that the two coolant leaks were unrelated micrometeoroid strikes, which prompted Roscosmos to reschedule MS-23 once again to launch Feb. 23.
Meanwhile, the MS-22/MS-23 crew is expected to spend a year in space, double their original time, to allow for yet another Soyuz with three people on board to serve as a relief crew. The crewed Soyuz, MS-24, will likely launch in September, according to the SpaceflightNow launch calendar. (opens in new tab)
Elizabeth Howell is the co-author of “Why Am I Taller (opens in new tab)?” (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), a book about space medicine. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or Facebook (opens in new tab).