Soyuz MS-23 Craft Launched to ISS, Providing Crew with Lifeboat

On Friday, February 24th, Russia launched an uncrewed Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station.[0] The mission was originally scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 19th, but was postponed due to a coolant leak on the Progress MS-21 cargo resupply vessel, which was docked to the station’s zenith port.[1]

The Progress MS-21 had been docked to the station since February 11th and initially, it was unclear what caused the leak. On Tuesday, February 16th, Roscosmos released an update on their Telegram channel, indicating the preliminary conclusion of the investigation was that the damage was caused by an “external influence” and not a manufacturing defect.[2]

The new Soyuz spacecraft was launched to replace the damaged Soyuz MS-22 vessel, which experienced a coolant leak on December 14th, 2022.[1] The leak rendered the crewed vessel inoperable, stranding cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, as well as NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, on the space station.[3] It is expected that the trio will return to Earth on the new Soyuz MS-23 later this year, possibly in September.[4]

Russia initially believed that the leak on the MS-22 spacecraft was caused by a micrometeoroid, however, some have speculated that the two separate incidents were caused by a manufacturing malfunction that the agency is covering up.[5]

The launch of the Soyuz MS-23 was critical to providing the trio with a safe ride home at the end of their extended mission as well as serving as the crew’s lifeboat in case of an emergency. The mission was also scheduled to occur shortly before the launch of the Crew-6 astronauts on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, which will replace the Crew-5 contingent.[6]

Overall, the launch of the Soyuz MS-23 was a success, allowing the crew on board the International Space Station to feel safe and secure knowing that a reliable lifeboat was now present.

0. “WATCH | Russian Soyuz spacecraft starts mission to return crew stranded on ISS” News24, 24 Feb. 2023,

1. “Uncrewed Soyuz MS-23 “rescue” mission launches to ISS –”, 23 Feb. 2023,

2. “Russia launches replacement spacecraft for astronauts stranded by coolant leak” CNN, 24 Feb. 2023,

3. “Russia is launching a mission to give stranded space station crew members a ride home” MPR News, 21 Feb. 2023,

4. “Russia Launches “Rescue” Soyuz Spacecraft to the Space Station” SciTechDaily, 24 Feb. 2023,

5. “Officials say an object collided with a spacecraft docked at the ISS” TweakTown, 23 Feb. 2023,

6. “Replacement for damaged Soyuz crew ferry ship launched on flight to space station” CBS News, 23 Feb. 2023,

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