Nick Hauge, a NASA astronaut along with Alexey Ovchinin a Russian Cosmonaut were on their way to the International Space Station Thursday morning when their Soyuz rocket malfunctioned. This incident caused them to abort the mission but luckily, they were still able to make a safe but harrowing journey back to Earth. It was Hague’s first trip to the ISS but sadly he’ll have to wait a little longer to get there.
The current mission
The International Space Station currently houses three crew members. NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Roscosmos’ Sergey Prokopyev, and ESA’s Alexander Gerst are scheduled to return on December 13 after which their replacements will make their way to the station seven days later.
These three astronauts still have enough supplies on board and will continue their normal operations even without their two other crew members.
Can they return to Earth?
Although there is a Soyuz capsule attached to the ISS, it is only certified for 200 days (about 6.5 months) in space, this timer will run out come January. If needed the astronauts can stay on the International Space Station for a little longer since they are still well-provisioned.
The current crew, however, may need to leave before another manned capsule can launch which may leave the ISS without a crew. It is not ideal, but it may still happen.
What does the future hold?
Can the International Space Station still operate without a crew? Of course, it can, and this sort of situation has come up before so it’s nothing new. However, if the astronauts need to leave, they would make sure that the redundant cooling, electrical, and other systems were set up and ready to start if needed. Ground control would monitor the station by sending commands to ensure that it stayed out of the way of space debris and above our atmosphere.
As for the future planned spacewalks and other missions, all of that is pretty much up in the air at this point. Hopefully, Hauge and Ovchinin will be able to join their fellow crew members at the ISS so their work at the station can begin.