The International Space Station has been losing air for months and even the use of a tea bag failed to solve the problem. With oxygen reserves diminishing, time is of the essence.

In the Russian part of the International Space Station, cosmonauts are struggling with air supply problems due to a leak. The space travelers should now find the leak as oxygen reserves kept shrinking, state agency Tass reported after switching between the ISS and the control center in Moscow. It is not clear where exactly the leak is in a transition to the “Zvezda” (“star”) module, said an expert on Earth.

Time is running out, the problem must be solved, it said in the flight control center. The problem with air leakage and pressure drop in the module has existed since August. Cosmonaut Sergei Ryschkov on the ISS said the air escaped from a transition to the “Zvezda” module. It is unclear exactly where. There is now talk of hermetically sealing the part so as not to compromise the air supply. That will affect work on the ISS, he said.

Time and again disruptions on the ISS

As early as October, the crew thought they had found the crack in a transition section of the “Zvezda” module. The space travelers had used a tea bag for this, which moved weightlessly towards the leak. The opening, about four inches long, was closed. The cause of the leak was unclear. Later it turned out that more air was escaping. Even an outdoor mission into space did not bring more clarity in November.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos had always insisted that there was no imminent threat to the ISS crew. The more than 20-year-old space station is experiencing failures again and again. Recently there were also problems with the power supply and the toilet system. There are currently seven astronauts on the station some 400 kilometers above the Earth: two Russians, four Americans and one Japanese.

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