New cracks found in International Space Station ‘could get wider’

(FILES) In this file NASA/Roscosmos handout photo the International Space Station photographed by Expedition 56 crew members from a Soyuz spacecraft after undocking, on October 4, 2018. - It is a jewel of engineering, a crazy project symbolizing exemplary international collaboration: after more than 20 years of continuous human presence on board, the International Space Station is now operating at full capacity. If it still has a few good years ahead of it, the question of its future is becoming more and more important. (Photo by - / NASA/Roscosmos / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT
Russian cosmonauts have discovered worrying cracks in the ISS (AFP)

Russian cosmonauts have discovered new cracks in a segment of the International Space Station (ISS).

Worryingly, a senior space official said on Monday these cracks could eventually widen.

‘Superficial fissures have been found in some places on the Zarya module,’ Vladimir Solovyov, chief engineer of rocket and space corporation Energia, told the RIA news agency.

‘This is bad and suggests that the fissures will begin to spread over time.’

He did not say if the cracks had caused any air to leak.

The space official has previously said much of the International Space Station’s equipment is starting to age and has warned there could be an ‘avalanche’ of broken equipment after 2025.

The space station has suffered several recent incidents. Russian officials last month said a software glitch, and a possible lapse in human attention, were to blame for throwing the ISS out of control.

Jet thrusters on the Russian research module Nauka inadvertently reignited a few hours after it had docked, causing the entire orbital outpost to pitch out of its normal flight position with seven crew members aboard.

Much of the equipment on the ISS is starting to age, experts say (Image: Nasa)
Much of the equipment on the ISS is starting to age, experts say (Image: Nasa)

Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, also reported last month a drop in pressure in the Zvezda service module, which provides living quarters for crew members on the ISS that was caused by an air leak.

The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has said it will remain part of the ISS until 2024 and that it is open to extending its participation beyond then.

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