When a leak was first found aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked to the International Space Station (ISS), it was suspected a meteorite had struck the craft and punctured the hull. The leak was plugged with epoxy and thus far, the repair seems to be holding. Pictures of the breach show a perfectly circular hole just about the size of a drill bit. Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin yesterday reversed the meteorite theory and said the leak found aboard the vehicle was almost certainly caused by a person with a drill. Rogozin told the TASS news agency:
“We are considering all the theories. The one about a meteorite impact has been rejected because the spaceship’s hull was evidently impacted from inside. However, it is too early to say definitely what happened.”
Whether the sabotage occurred before takeoff or while the vehicle was in space has not been determined. What is certain, is that scratches near the hole indicate a drill bit was used to puncture the hull.
“If a cosmonaut pulled this strange stunt—and that can’t ruled out— it’s really bad. 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.”
NASA discovered the leak around 7:00 PM on August 29, 2018, but chose not to notify the Russian astronauts until the following morning, opting to let them sleep. The vehicle had docked with the Space Station on June 8 after carrying NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, and German astronaut Alexander Gerst to the ISS. The hole was found behind an insulation panel that had been accidentally knocked aside, exposing the hole. NASA declined to discuss the issue with reporters. A Russian State Commission has been convened to investigate the cause of the puncture.