Russian spacecraft arrives at the ISS to replace damaged capsule

Three astronauts whose original return vehicle was harmed by a small meteoroid will ultimately return to Earth aboard an unmanned Russian Soyuz capsule that docked with the International Space Station early on Sunday.

Live video from ISS partner NASA revealed that the MS-23 spacecraft autonomously attached to the orbiting research lab to end the Soyuz’s two-day journey from Kazakhstan.

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In September, it is anticipated to return US pilot Frank Rubio as well as Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev.

The three were initially only intended to stay for about six months, until the end of March, after arriving at the ISS last September onboard MS-22.

But after being struck by what US and Russian authorities think to have been a tiny space rock, their capsule started leaking coolant in the middle of December.

The damaged ship would be replaced by MS-23, which Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, decided not to dispatch with its own three planned crew members.

Rubio, Petelin, and Prokopyev will now spend almost a year in space because there is no one to take their position.

It is anticipated that the injured MS-22 will leave the space station and make its way back to Earth in late March.

Currently aboard the ISS are four more people, who traveled there as part of the Crew-5 expedition last October on a SpaceX Dragon capsule.

Members of the Crew-6 mission, including two Americans, an Emirati, and a Russian, are slated to join them next week. They will travel onboard a SpaceX capsule that is anticipated to take off on Monday from Florida.

Crew-5 will then return to Earth following a few days of overlap.

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