Sultan Al Nayadi's space mission delayed by Russian rescue effort

The Emirati was due to blast into space on February 19 but the mission will be pushed back to allow for three stranded astronauts to be brought home

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Sultan Al Neyadi's landmark mission to the International Space Station will be delayed to allow for Russia to complete a rescue mission for three stranded astronauts.

Three crew members on the ISS — two Russians and one American — do not have a way back home, after their spacecraft, the Soyuz MS-22, suffered catastrophic damage.

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has plans to send a backup spacecraft — Soyuz MS-23 — on February 20, which will dock at the space station and return the crew to Earth six months later.

Dr Al Neyadi’s Nasa/Space Crew-6 mission will only launch after Soyuz MS-23 has been sent into space.

"Nasa and Roscosmos are adjusting the International Space Station flight plan after completing an investigation into a coolant leak on the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked to the station," Nasa said.

“Nasa and SpaceX are prepared to launch the Crew-6 mission soon after Soyuz MS-23, incorporating the manifest changes previously mentioned.

“Nasa still plans on having a direct handover between the Crew-5 and Crew-6 missions.”

The US space agency was originally targeting February 19 to launch Crew-6, but that has now probably been pushed to late February.

And the Soyuz MS-23 was meant to launch in March, but that spacecraft will now be used to rescue Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev, and Nasa astronaut Frank Rubio.

The craft the astronauts arrived on in September suffered a coolant leak last month that left it so badly damaged that it will need to be brought back to Earth without a crew in autonomous mode.

Roscosmos said the leak was caused by a tiny meteorite and Nasa agrees.

“It has been experimentally proven that the damage to the radiator pipeline occurred as a result of a meteoroid impact. The hole diameter is less than 1mm,” said Roscosmos.

Dr Al Neyadi is set to embark on the Arab world’s first long-duration space mission.

He will spend six months on the space station.

Updated: January 14, 2023, 8:07 AM