Cosmonauts examine 'mysterious hole' on ISS spacewalk

14 December, 2018, 12:55 | Author: Ann Santiago
  • A NASA astronaut on a spacewalk in 2010

The then-Expedition 56 crew, including Prokopyev, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, were able to trace the leak back to a 0.1-inch (2 millimeters) hole in the orbital compartment of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, which was docked to the Rassvet module on the Russian segment of the space station. Rogozin added that Roscosmos will discuss the probe findings with NASA and other space station partners.

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

You need steady hands when you're hurtling around the Earth at 27,000 kilometres per hour in a pressurised spacesuit holding a knife and hacking a hole in a Soyuz capsule from the outside.

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

From that point on they used a GoPro camera to film the hole and fumbled with scissors in their oversized gloves as they cut off a bit of the sealant to bag and send back to Earth.

Initially thought to be the result of a micrometeorite impact, subsequent investigation revealed it to be man made, and Russian Federation launched a full investigation to determine where and when it was created. But Russian officials stated a few days after the hole was discovered that, based on its shape, it looked to have been drilled.

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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.

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said in September that the hole could have been drilled during manufacture or while in orbit.

Their goal was to collect samples of any residue found on the habitation module's hull. To expose the external hull, Kononenko needed to cut away a 10-inch (25-centimeter) swatch of thermal insulation and debris shield, a slow and hard task. Those samples will eventually be returned to Earth when the Soyuz departs the space station and brings crew members back home.

A small hole in the craft has been sealed and this has halted the oxygen leak. They also collected images and video to aid the investigation.

The discovery of the hole was followed in October by the failure of a manned Soyuz launch, although the Russian and U.S. astronauts returned safely to Earth.

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