Russian Progress cargo ship departs space station despite coolant leak

A robotic Russian cargo ship stricken by a coolant leak undocked from the International Space Station late Friday (Feb.17) while a cosmonaut snapped photos of it looking for signs of damage.

The Progress spacecraft, known as Progress 82 by NASA and Progress MS-21 by Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, cast off from the space station’s Poisk module at 9:26 p.m. EST (0226 GMT) after nearly four months at the orbiting lab. Its departure came seven days after Roscosmos engineers reported a coolant leak on the uncrewed Progress ship on Feb. 11, prompting astronauts and cosmonauts to conduct a photo inspection of the craft with a robotic arm for signs of damage.

“The reason for the coolant leak is continuing to be investigated between our NASA specialists and Roscosmos counterparts,” Jeff Arend, the manager of NASA’s International Space Station engineering and integration office at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, told reporters in a briefing Friday. “An inspection was completed earlier this week using the Canadarm2 to gather imagery of the suspected area and the teams are evaluating that imagery.”

After Progress 82 undocked from the station, cosmonauts on the station commanded the ship to rotate 180 degrees so they could snap more imagery of the leaky spacecraft.