Russian astronauts have discovered new cracks in a segment of the International Space Station (ISS) that could widen, a space official said on Monday, the latest in a series of setbacks.
“Surface cracks were found in some places in the Zarya module,” Vladimir Soloviov, chief engineer at the Russian space company Energia, told the RIA news agency. “This is bad and suggests that the cracks will start to spread over time.”
He did not say whether the cracks caused air leakage.
The space officer has previously said that much of the ISS equipment is starting to age and warned that there could be an “avalanche” of broken equipment after 2025.
The space station has suffered several recent incidents. Russian officials said last month that a software flaw and possible human error were responsible for driving the ISS out of control.
The Russian Nauka research module’s jet thrusters inadvertently rekindled a few hours after docking, causing the entire orbital outpost to come out of its normal flying position with seven crew members on board.
The Russian space agency Roscosmos also reported last month that a drop in pressure on the Zvezda’s service module, which provides accommodation for crew members on the ISS, was caused by an air leak.
The Russian space agency has said it will remain part of the ISS until 2024 and is open to extending its membership beyond that date.