Sabotage blamed for International Space Station's leak

Friday, 07 Sep, 2018

As unbelievable as it may sound, the air leak was caused by a hole that was mistakenly drilled while the Soyuz spacecraft was still on the ground. The current version is designated Soyuz MS. As the Soyuz hull is made from an aluminum alloy, it could have been properly repaired on Earth by welding, had the technician reported the mistake. And the ship went into orbit along with three crew members. But it turns out that wasn't the source of the hole. "The design engineers believe it is the result of a micrometeorite", he said.

Amusingly, the first thing that was done to fix the damage was for European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst to plug the hole with his finger.

A photo allegedly showing the hole before being filled with epoxy surfaced on a NASA Twitter account and was then apparently deleted, not before being snatched by others.

"It seems to be done by a faltering hand", Dmitry Rogozin, CEO of Russia's state space corporation Roscosmos, told the Russian news agency TASS.

"There were several attempts at drilling", Mr Rogozin said late Monday in televised comments, adding the drill appeared to have been held by a "wavering hand". He is not ruling out any possibilities, including that it may have been done in space.

The Roscosmos chief said it was now "essential" to discover if the puncture occurred in space or back on Earth, and to find the person responsible. "And we will find out, without fail", he vowed.

The leak was detected on Wednesday night, leading to a minor reduction in cabin pressure.

Six people are onboard the aircraft.

Chances of tiny meteoroids colliding with the Space station are a permanent threat despite the fact that the station was made in such a way that it could withstand the constant bombardment from the dusty fragments that that passes above the Earth.

Rogozin was renowned for his intemperate remarks while he was the Russian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the defense and aerospace sectors from 2011-2018. Rogozin is among the Russians sanctioned by the United States and Europe following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Soyuz is the only spacecraft now able to bring crewmembers to the space station, and it remains connected to the orbiting laboratory until they head home again. They will check for deliberate sabotage signs in both the ships at the enterprise's manufacturing center in Moscow and those stationed at Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA says no commitments have been made yet to either meeting.