The biggest space story this year was definitely the mysterious hole on board of the Soyuz capsule which was docked to the International Space Station. This event overshadowed the asteroid landing on Ryugu and other impressive achievements.
After so many investigations both on Earth and in the ISS, a Russian cosmonaut came with mind baffling answers: it seems that the hole was indeed drilled from inside the capsule. But when and how? Here is where the mystery gets weirder.
At the end of August, NASA’s flight controllers at Johnson Space Center uncovered a drop in the air pressure in the space station, but the crew was not in danger. The crew aboard found the leak was from a two-millimeter wide hole in a Russian Soyuz capsule that was docked to the space station. This capsule brought three astronauts to the station in June. As soon as the crew filled the hole with epoxy and gauze, they began wondering how the whole got there. The first possibility was that the capsule was hit by space junk or micrometeoroids, but all the proof showed it was a human that created the hole.
Roscosmos chief Dmitry Olegovich Rogozin theorized that the capsule was sabotaged either on Earth or by a crew member on the space station – as the suggestions were made, Russian authorities then retracted their statements, but the Russian and U.S. space relations have been damaged to a certain extent.
The Final Results – Who Sabotaged the Soyuz Capsule?
Finally, on December 11, Sergei Prokopyev and Oleg Kononenko got on an 8-hour long spacewalk to investigate the hole and excise a 10-inch sample to send to scientists on Earth for study.
According to a statement from Prokopyev this Monday, the hole was made from the interior, which means that it was created by a human – intentionally or accidentally. Prokopyev added that “you shouldn’t think so badly of our crew,” when talking about the farfetched probability that the hole was drilled by one of the crew members in space, which is also a very difficult task in microgravity.
This means that it’s likely an engineer made that hole while the capsule was on the ground – during production, maintenance, and repairs. The problem might not have been noticed or reported, or the hole was covered with a sealant that fell off while the capsule was already in orbit.
If it does prove that the mistake was made on Earth, this will be a problem for Roscosmos and their safety check protocol, making the international partners worried and probably less willing to participate in Soyuz launches.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere