In August, the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) was surprised when he learned that the leak was responsible for a slight loss of air pressure at the station.
After investigating, they learned that the cause was a small hole in the Russian spacecraft Soyuz, which he moored in the ISS. While the hole was immediately sealed, its cause remained a mystery.
To determine the possible cause and check the outer hole on the spacecraft, the Expedition 57 crew carried out an "unprecedented space walk" on December 11th.
After collecting samples from the outside, flight engineers Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev concluded that the hole was drilled from inside the capsule, which raises even more questions.
During space walks, Kononenko and Prokopyev opened the thermal shield and the meteorite shield on the spacecraft to investigate the hole more closely. They also downloaded the digital images of the hole and took samples that were later returned to Earth with a capsule (December 11) for further analysis.
Initially, he was assigned a micrometeorite, which was quickly determined as the result of drilling. The hole was not a threat to the station or its crew, because it was very small and caused a slight drop in air pressure. Nevertheless, after the mission controllers and crew identified the source, they did not waste time clogging the hole with epoxy resin and gauze.
The crew analysis results were forwarded at a press conference shortly after Prokopyev and crew members Serena Aunon-Chancellor (NASA) and Alexander Gerst (European Space Agency) returned to Earth. The hole was not a threat during the return because the section in which it appeared was rejected before re-entering the Earth's atmosphere.
As Prokopyev pointed out, the cavity began from inside the capsule (which means it was drilled from the inside) and that Russian law enforcement agencies are investigating what caused it. Prokopyev also rejected the rumors that the hole was drilled deliberately, which appeared as a result of the statement he made in September.
At that time, Rogozin said that they are not ready to rule out that the hole was deliberately drilled, whether during production or in orbit. There were rumors that the drilled hole could have been part of the sabotage attempt. Rumors deepened the statements made by former astronaut and Russian politician Maxim Surayev.
On September 4, Suraev talked openly about the possibility that psychological instability could play a role during a discussion about a spill in the State Duma. "We are all living people, anyone can want to come back home, but this method is completely unworthy," he said. "If this cosmonaut did it, and this can not be ruled out, it is absolutely wrong."
On September 6, he once again examined this possibility by adding:
"But if it happens in space and set by the committee, I can once again confirm that only a fool, flying in space, a mentally disturbed person, can start to drill a hole because there is a vacuum because you are not only yourself, but also life five people outside of you, you're crazy, which means you got it, but I do not blame anyone.
Rogozin has since made these statements and claimed that the media has changed his words. At that time, it was clear that the investigation would determine the real cause, even if sabotage was a distant possibility. During the press conference, Prokopyev also rejected the idea that the hole could be intentionally drilled by an astronaut. "You should not think about our crew so badly," he said.
These last statements have not done much to stop speculating about the causes of the hole being drilled. However, both NASA and the Russian authorities remain adamant that the cause of the hole remains unknown and will be fully investigated. As Prokopyev summed up during the conference, "the investigating authorities assess when this hole was made".
Certainly he pointed out that the incident showed the level of readiness of the ISS crew. The way the astronauts quickly identified and repaired the hole showed that "the crew was ready for any changes," he said. Meanwhile, operations on the ISS are underway, and Expedition 58 begins operations on December 20.
The crew is commanded by Oleg Kononenko (who helped seal the hole and participated in a space walk) and includes NASA astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques as flight engineers.
This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.