Published: Fri, December 14, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

NASA Rejected Russia's Proposal to Jointly Probe Hole in Soyuz

NASA Rejected Russia's Proposal to Jointly Probe Hole in Soyuz

The space station's crew patched the tiny hole in the Soyuz capsule last August, using epoxy and gauze.

The cause of the hole on the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, docked to the station, has not yet been established.

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

The two Russians performed the space walk on December 11, as part of an effort by Roskosmos to pinpoint the cause of the hole, which was found in August in the docked Soyuz capsule and strained relations between the Russian and US space agencies.

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.

Roscosmos space agency said the aim would be to discover whether the "small but dangerous" hole had been made on Earth or in space.

Back in August, astronauts noticed a slight drop in pressure on the International Space Station.

What made 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.

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The Soyuz spacecraft is used to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS.

The two cosmonauts then used the same tools to cut into and peel away a thin metal orbital debris shield to expose the hole in the Soyuz MS-09's orbital compartment.

The spacewalkers' job was to collect samples of any epoxy sealant that may have protruded from the hole.

The spacewalk was the fourth for Kononenko and the second for Prokopyev.

After more than five hours of a rare broadcast - showing the cosmonauts in space trying to cut through an insulate of the spacecraft with a knife - they uncovered the external part of the hole, originally discovered in the capsule's internal covering, and took samples of the exterior insulation, according to a Reuters report.

Then the insulation proved harder to remove than expected, taking another one to two hours of effort.

The cosmonauts will return to Earth next week safely inside the descent module with their samples from the spacewalk, while the two other modules will separate and burn up in the atmosphere.

The Soyuz is scheduled to depart the orbiting lab on December 19, USA time, with Prokopyev, American Serena Aunon-Chancellor and German Alexander Gerst, the station's current skipper.

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