Published: Wed, December 12, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Space station crew to inspect mysterious hole on spacewalk

Space station crew to inspect mysterious hole on spacewalk

Kononenko arrived at the ISS on a Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft last Tuesday, along with NASA's Anne McClain and the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques, weeks after the previous launch had to be aborted shortly after takeoff.

Russian Federation said that it will share its findings with NASA to conduct its own investigation.

A pair of Russian cosmonauts will investigate a hole in the Soyuz MS-09 capsule attached to the International Space Station.

The crew aboard the space station has, since the leak was discovered and repaired, conducted frequent leak detection work and pressure measurements to make sure that the leak stayed sealed and the pressure on the space station remained normal. The hole was repaired on the same day restoring the hermetic integrity of the ISS.

Initially, the hole was thought to have been caused by a micrometeorite, but on closer inspection, it appeared that the hole was caused by "a faltering hand", said Roscosmos CEO Dmitry Rogozin several days after the incident, adding that it "was done by a human hand-there are traces of a drill sliding along the surface".

The Soyuz capsule had been used to deliver a new crew to the laboratory 400km (250 miles) above the Earth in June.

Oleg Kononenko and Sergei Prokopyev will perform a six-hour spacewalk to inspect the exterior of the Soyuz, taking samples of the insulation covering the hole from the outside. The fix halted the leak, and the space station has since maintained a steady pressure.

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Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko peels away thermal insulation from Soyuz MS-09 after slicing into it with a knife.

The hole was in the orbital module, also known as the habitation module - one of three modules on the Soyuz vehicle.

The spacewalkers reported seeing no drill marks around the black dot, like on the inside.

In the 7 hour 45 minute expedition, the cosmonauts took extensive photos of the drilling site and collected material from around the hole to be sent back to the Earth for testing. The residue, stowed inside a bag, was brought back inside the space station and will be returned to Earth for analysis.

This was the 213th spacewalk in 20 years at the space station.

Prokopyev, Gerst, and NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor are scheduled to depart the station in the Soyuz MS-09 on December 19, returning to Earth after a six-and-a-half-month mission.

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