Russia delays launch of rescue spacecraft after second coolant leak issue

Officials at Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, have opted to delay the launch of a spacecraft meant to replace one deemed not safe enough to transport astronauts after a second vehicle — a cargo ship — sprang a leak on Saturday, according to NASA.

Once cleared, the replacement spacecraft, Soyuz MS-23, will transport three astronauts currently stationed at the International Space Station back to Earth. The vehicle originally assigned to the mission, Soyuz MS-22, was found in December to be leaking coolant.

Roscosmos was aiming to launch the MS-23 replacement capsule this month and return cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dimitri Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio home.

The rescue vehicle will now launch in March, according to a post from the official Roscosmos Telegram account.

The decision to delay was made after NASA confirmed that a separate Russian vehicle, a Progress spacecraft designed to carry cargo that had docked with the space station on February 11, had a similar coolant leak.