Roscosmos has revealed to NASA that the Soyuz MS-02 capsule’s re-entry and landing in April – carrying astronaut Shane Kimbrough and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko back to Earth from the International Space Station – did not go quite to plan. At 8 km altitude a parachute buckle reportedly struck a welding seam and caused a slow depressurisation of the capsule. The relatively low altitude (a depressurisation valve was set to open at 5 km anyway), along with the fact that the crew were wearing pressurisation suits with an oxygen supply, meant that there was no danger to those aboard.
Although this incident is counted as minor, when depressurisation is involved human lives are always at risk. On 26 June 1971, three Soviet cosmonauts returning to Earth on Soyuz 11 were killed by a depressurisation failure and the resultant asphyxiation during re-entry and landing. During the undocking procedure, a pressure equalisation pyro-valve was unintentionally opened, which slowly depressurised the Soyuz 11 spacecraft during its descent. After it landed, the recovery team found the motionless bodies of the three crew inside the capsule, with blue faces and blood emanating from their noses and ears. After this event, all Soyuz crew wore full pressure suits during re-entry.