NASA is considering the possibility of using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft as an alternative vehicle to transport some astronauts from the International Space Station to Earth following the discovery of a coolant leak in Russia’s Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft docked at the ISS, Reuters reported Wednesday.
NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos are looking into the cause of the leak in Soyuz, which is set to return three crew ISS members in March following a six-month mission aboard the orbiting laboratory.
According to the report, the two agencies are investigating whether a hardware failure on the capsule, a piece of space debris or a puncture caused by a meteoroid caused the coolant leak.
“We have asked SpaceX a few questions on their capability to return additional crew members on Dragon if necessary, but that is not our prime focus at this time,” Sandra Jones, a spokeswoman for NASA, told the news wire agency in a statement.
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, is expected to lift off in mid-February from a launch complex at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to transport four crew members to the ISS as part of the SpaceX Crew-6 mission.