Wild rumors have been running in the Russian press, stating that a NASA astronaut has intentionally made an orifice in a Russian spacecraft which is currently docked at the International Space Station.
In this context the two space agencies have released a joint statement in which they state that the leak found last month is under investigation and no further comments will be made.
The leak is incredibly small, being less than one-tenth of an inch in width. It was observed on August 29, and initial analysis concluded it does not pose a direct threat. Russian astronauts have already patched it with tape.
Rumors launched by Russian press and interpretable statements by the general director of Rocosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, may have encouraged the two space powers to reaffirm their cooperation, as both are responsible for the maintenance and management of the ISS
In the beginning, a micrometeorite was blamed for the whole. More nefarious causes have been implied by Rogozin during a televised interview. The micrometeorite theory has been rejected since the hole appears to have been made from the inside of the spacecraft. Rogozin declared that any and all possibilities are being investigated at this time.
The bold statement prompted some of Russian news agencies to speculate that the Soyuz transport module may have been sabotaged by an American astronaut.
According to one of the reports, a NASA astronaut is ill and needs to be sent back to Earth. In order to transport the patient, three of the six astronauts would have to leave the ISS, but NASA may have wanted to avoid the costs of an unplanned launch. This may have prompted a sabotage act in order to force the evacuation. As the appeared in a dischargeable part of the module, it poses to risk during the return to Earth.
An article published in a popular Russian newspaper notes that the module is situated in the close proximity of the American side of the station. Access to the medical records of the NASA astronauts has been is rumored to have been denied in order to maintain privacy.
Jim Bridenstine , NASA administrator, and Rogozin have reportedly discussed the issue by telephone, leading to the joint press release. It remains to be seen how to problem will be solved in the long run.