When a tiny hole was discovered inside a spacecraft attached to the International Space Station (ISS) last Wednesday, U.S. and Russian authorities initially suspected a micrometeoroid strike. More than 170 million pieces of space debris circle in the earth's orbit and a collision with the ISS appeared to be inevitable.
The hole, about two millimetres in diameter, caused a drop in air pressure at the station and was temporarily repaired using tape and sealant by two crew members.
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Russian space agency director Dmitri Rogozin said it was caused by a drill, not a meteorite.
US-Russia cooperation in space is one of the few remaining areas untouched by Washington's sanctions against Moscow.
The leak was never a serious danger to astronauts now aboard the space station, NASA statements confirmed.
Investigators did not specify whether they believed the hole was drilled on Earth or in space, but Russia's Roscosmos space agency did not exclude the possibility of sabotage. "The one about a meteorite impact has been rejected because the spaceship's hull was evidently impacted from inside", Rogozin said according to the TASS report.
The leaking Soyuz - one of two now docked - arrived at the orbiting lab in June with three astronauts.
The scariest part is that Russian Federation is not even ruling out the possibility that the hole could have been made before the capsule was used to transport astronauts from earth.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Roscosmos space agency, commented, "There were several attempts at drilling".
Saint-Jacques made the comment during a news conference at the Johnson Space Center in Houston where he discussed his upcoming six-month visit to the space station. The capsule is supposed to bring the ISS astronauts back to earth in December, and it is fortunate engineers found the hole now, considering it could have proved fatal later. He admitted that the hole might have occurred because of a Russian production mistake, allowing, "I wish to God that this is a production defect, although that's very sad, too - there's been nothing like this in the history of Soyuz ships". Russian Federation said it was checking its spacecraft units now in construction for similar defects.
"We are confident they will identify the cause of the leak", Stephanie Schierholz said in an email.