Space station crew to inspect mysterious hole on spacewalk

Space station crew to inspect mysterious hole on spacewalk

Space station crew to inspect mysterious hole on spacewalk

"It should be somewhere here", Mr Kononenko says at the height of the six-hour operation.

Circled in red, the hole in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft that corresponded to a pressure leak on the International Space Station in August 2018. "All along, mission control in Moscow pleaded with them to take it slow so they wouldn't make the situation worse".

Two Russian cosmonauts ventured outside the International Space Station on Tuesday to inspect a section where a mysterious leak appeared.

And so on Tuesday the 2-millimeter hole led to a foot-long gash, as Kononenko sawed through the debris shield and insulation, looking for clues.

The pair will take samples of any residue found on the hull of the capsule - which is used to transport astronauts and cosmonauts to and from the ISS - and take photos of the area for further investigation before placing a thermal blanket over it.

What makes it especially hard is that the Soyuz spacecraft, unlike the ISS, was not created to be repaired in spacewalks and has no outside railings for astronauts to hold onto.

Kononenko, who arrived at the station earlier this month with NASA astronaut Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, said in a pre-flight interview that the spacewalk would be strenuous.

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However, Russian officials have said they believe it was caused by a drill and may have been deliberate.

Russian officials later denied those reports.

А live broadcast shown on NASA's website showed Oleg Kononenko and Sergei Prokopyev trying to cut through insulation of the spacecraft with a knife, in order to find the external part of the hole.

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko (in the spacesuit with red stripes) and Sergey Prokopyev (with blue stripes), both Expedition 57 flight engineers, cut into the exterior insulation of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft during a December 11. Investigators quickly dismissed theories of meteorite impacts, as the hole seemed to come from inside the capsule, said Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos, according to state news agency TASS.

Astronauts were unsure how the hole got there but plugged it using a bit of cloth and epoxy sealant.

George Washington University space policy expert John Logsdon told NPR in September that there is "a kind of generalized concern about the decline of quality control in Russian space industry in recent years".

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