MOSCOW (AFP): Russia’s unmanned Soyuz MS-22 capsule returned to Earth on Tuesday from the International Space Station (ISS), landing in Kazakhstan three months after suffering a coolant leak.
The vessel landed at 5:46 pm local time (1146 GMT) in the vast Central Asian country, a Roscosmos live transmission showed.
The Russian space agency said the capsule carried “around 218 kilograms of cargo”, including results of scientific experiments.
It landed near the Kazakh town of Zhezkazgan.
The capsule flew Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio to the ISS in September last year and was due to bring them home.
But it began leaking coolant in mid-December — shortly before Russian cosmonauts were to begin a spacewalk — after being hit by what US and Russian space officials believe was a tiny space rock.
In February, Russia sent a MS-23 vessel to the ISS to pick up the stranded crew. It is expected to bring them back to Earth in September.
The damage caused by the suspected tiny meteoroid to the MS-22’s cooling system raised fears that there could be problems during re-entry, when the capsule experiences extreme temperatures.
Space has remained a rare venue of cooperation between Moscow and Washington since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine and ensuing Western sanctions on Moscow.