Published: Fri, December 14, 2018
Sci-tech | By Laverne Osborne

Cosmonauts check with ISS-outdoor use mysterious hole

Cosmonauts check with ISS-outdoor use mysterious hole

"It's going to be challenging both physically and technically", he said.

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. Russian Mission Control outside Moscow urged the men to take their time and to rest, even though they were running behind.

The capsule leak caused a flap between the US and Russian space agencies, following its discovery at the end of August.

Two Russian cosmonauts ventured outside the International Space Station today (Dec. 11) to cut into a spacecraft and inspect the source of a pressurization leak that briefly plagued the outpost earlier this year.

The hole appeared as a black mark or spot on the exposed metal skin of the Soyuz spacecraft.

These will then be sent to Earth to "get at the truth" of the cavity's origins, a video released by the space agency said.

During the an nearly eight-hour spacewalk, veteran cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergei Prokopyev struggled, but eventually succeeded, in cutting away the insulation covering the hole and taking out a sample to analyse.

He said recently that an official Russian probe is ongoing and crew members who are set to return to Earth on December 20 would bring back samples collected during Tuesday's spacewalk.

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He had said earlier that Russian Federation did not exclude "deliberate interference in space".

Russian officials later denied those reports.

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.

The spacewalk will be the fourth of Kononenko's career and he'll be wear a spacesuit with red stripes on this journey, while Prokopyev will bear blue stripes for his second spacewalk.

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 hole caused speculation about sabotage in Russian media, The New York Times reported Monday, but NASA and Roscosmos held off on elaborating further until the investigation is completed. 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.

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

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