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What does it mean if the hole in the ISS was drilled from the inside?

What does it mean if the hole in the ISS was drilled from the inside?There isn't much contest for the most bizarre space news story of the year. If anyone were to give away such an award it would definitely be handed to the bizarre saga of the leak that spontaneously appeared in the hull of a Soyuz spacecraft that was attached to the International Space Station several months ago. Now, with the ship itself safely back on Earth and the portion of the spacecraft that held the hole jettisoned during reentry, it's up to Russia to determine how the hole was created, when, and by whom.

The country's investigation into the strange incident has seemed messy to any outside observer, with statements from officials coming fast and furious in the days following the hole's discovery and then tapering off rapidly with no resolution. This week, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev told reporters that the hunt for the truth was in the hands of the Russian space program, but he also stated definitively that the hole was created from the inside.

Okay, so the hole was drilled from inside the spacecraft and wasn't drilled into the interior from the exterior, but what does that mean and is it important? Well, at the moment it doesn't mean a whole lot, especially if you place any weight on early statements from Russian officials who believed the damage was created during the spacecraft's manufacturing process.

Ships like Russia's Soyuz go through extensive testing and inspection before they're allowed to be strapped onto a rocket and shot into space. Everything has to be pretty much perfect for a ship to be cleared to take human passengers, and the fact that the hole wasn't addressed during the inspection and verification process is obviously peculiar.

Early on, rumblings out of Russia suggested that maybe one of the ISS crew members (a NASA astronaut, perhaps) had drilled the hole in order to cut a mission short so a sick crew member could return. Those assertions were quickly shot down by the crew and Russia rapidly denied suggesting that anyone aboard the ISS was responsible.

Assuming the damage was created when the ship was still on Earth, the fact that it was drilled from the inside might not mean all that much. The hole, which was apparently hidden with a low-quality patch job, ultimately posed no threat the crew, but it's still a nasty mark on Russia's Soyuz program which NASA and other international space groups have relied on to get scientists into space.



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Hole in International Space Station was drilled deliberately, says Russian space agency

Hole in International Space Station was drilled deliberately, says Russian space agencyThe hole discovered in the International Space Station (ISS) was drilled deliberately, the Russian space agency has said. Last week mission controllers in Houston and Moscow noticed a drop in pressure on the station and astronauts discovered a hole in a Russian domestic module. Although the leak was small enough to be fixed by the crew, if it had not been spotted the astronauts would have run out of air in 18 days. Space debris or a micro-meteorite was initially blamed for the damage, but new pictures show the hole had been deliberately drilled and the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos and module manufacturer RSC Energia have launched an investigation to find the culprit. And one Russian politician and former cosmonaut has even claimed it could have been carried out by a homesick astronaut. Speaking to Russia’s International News Agency RIA Novosti, Maxim Suraev said on-board sabotage by a mentally unstable crew member could not be ruled out. “All of us are living people, everyone can want to go home, but this way is completely unworthy,” he said. The hole found in the ISS had been drilled  Credit: Nasa Mr Suraev also said that the ISS had a drill on board capable of making the hole.   Although Roscosmos said they were not accusing any of the crew, they said they had not ruled out that hole was drilled deliberately in space. They are also investigating whether it was an error made on the ground which was then patched up and was only noticed when the plug failed. Dmitry Rogozin, Head of Roscosmos, said: “Where were these actions taken – on Earth or already in orbit? “The version of the meteorite has already been swept away, but there was an obvious impact on the shelling of the ship from the inside, but to say more it is really too early. “It's up to RSC Energia to find out who did it, what is it: an error or intentional actions? I would like to know the name (of the culprit) and we will know.” When the leak was detected last week European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Alexander Gerst initially plugged it with his finger, before the crew made an improvised patch using a rubber plug made from bin-bag seals, duct tape, gauze from the medical kit and vacuum proof sealant. The hole was sealed and a Russian Progress cargo ship docked at the ISS and Moscow is recommending using oxygen from its tanks to repressurise the station. As well as Gerst there are four other astronauts on board, Ricky Arnold, Drew Feustel  and Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. Nasa has yet to comment on the investigation.



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