BAIKONUR /Kazakhstan/, October 13. /TASS/. The solar panels and windows of the International Space Station (ISS) have marks of minor damage from micrometeorite hits but they are smaller than the projected degradation, Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergei Ryzhikov said at a pre-flight press conference on Tuesday.
"There is, of course, minor damage to the elements of the external surface of the station: micro-canyons [from micrometeorites] can be seen on solar panels and windows," the cosmonaut said.
These impacts are projected and the space station has an increased safety margin, he said.
"The situation is constantly monitored. Both experimental and permanent equipment is delivered to register all micro-hits and extra damage. An analysis of the degradation of the station’s solar panels and power supply is carried out. It is due to this that the station has been flying in orbit for over 20 years and the existing degradations are below the projected damage," the Roscosmos cosmonaut said.
A Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with a manned Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft is set to blast off from Site No. 31 (Vostok launch pad) of the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan at 08:45 a.m. Moscow time on October 14 to deliver Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins to the orbital outpost.
The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the orbital outpost’s Rassvet module at 11:52 a.m. Moscow time on the same day. Therefore, the flight will for the first time proceed using the two-orbit scheme.
During the new long-term expedition, Russian cosmonauts Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will carry out 55 scientific studies and experiments, including four new probes. Three scientific experiments will be carried out without the crew’s participation. The cosmonauts are also set to make two spacewalks. One of them will take place in November 2020 and the other in February 2021.
Both spacewalks will be needed for undocking and dumping the Pirs module next year. This is required for vacating the place for Russia’s new Nauka (Science) module that will be launched in April 2021.
Currently, Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy are working aboard the orbital outpost.