Russian Federation to check spacecraft to find ISS air leak reason

Charles Simonyi

Astronauts Repair Hole in International Space Station

"The version of the meteorite has already been swept away, but there was an obvious impact on the shelling of the ship from the inside". "There are traces of a drill sliding along the surface", Rogozin said, TASS reports, describing the handiwork as the result of a "faltering hand".

A commission has now been set up to look at the cause, with the goal of identifying the person responsible by name.

A pressure drop in the ISS last week was traced to the hole.

The Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft launched toward the ISS on June 8 carrying cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, and NASA astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor.

According to Roscosmos's data, pressure on the orbital outpost is holding stable after the repairs and no new leaks have been detected, the report said. He added that they also included the theory that the hole was part of a "deliberate interference in space", explaining that they will find the one responsible for this act and determine if it was done by accident or not.

But Rogozin reportedly said that an investigatory commission had ruled out a micrometeorite strike and narrowed the cause down to "a technological mistake of a technician" since "it is clear that the damage was caused from inside the spacecraft". Once in space, the glue that had been used to plug the hole dried up and and fell out, at which point sensors alerted the Expedition 56 crew to an air leak. The hole was in a section of the Soyuz ship that which won't return to Earth.

For one thing, a saboteur might have made a bigger hole; at the maximum rate of leakage, the crew aboard the ISS had "weeks of air left" in reserve, according to a European Space Agency blog.

Currently, there are two Russian cosmonauts, three American NASA astronauts, and a German from the ESA on board the space station.

Whether Rogozin's insinuation that someone aboard the ISS may have drilled a hole in the Soyuz will affect those plans is unclear.

Alexander Zheleznyakov, a former space industry engineer and author, told TASS state news agency that drilling the hole in zero gravity would be almost impossible in that part of the spacecraft. Meanwhile, NASA has not specifically commented on the matter, saying any investigation will be undertaken by Roscosmos.

One possibility, according to a space industry source speaking to the Russian state news agency TASS, is that the hole was the result of a botched fix.

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