NASA investigates space station hole, plans spacewalk

NASA removed these before and after images of the ISS hole from a Space to Ground video update in September.

NASA

One of the stranger space sagas in recent memory involves a small hole in a spacecraft attached to the International Space Station that has spawned speculation, scrutiny and a pair of investigations from NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

The latest development in the story comes from NASA, which issued on Wednesday a statement about the leak investigation and expressed confidence in Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft. 

The odd tale started on Aug. 29 with the discovery of a small hole in a Soyuz craft attached to the ISS. Early speculation on the cause touched on everything from a puncture caused by space debris to a manufacturing mistake to deliberate sabotage. The ISS crew quickly repaired the hole and stopped a small pressure leak.

NASA’s statement comes after Roscosmos general director Dmitry Rogozin said the investigation has ruled out a manufacturing defect. Rogozin said early in September the hole appeared to be made by a person with a drill

NASA expressed confidence in the Soyuz manufacturing process. “Ruling out a manufacturing defect indicates that this is an isolated issue which does not categorically affect future production,” it said.

The International Space Station program is tentatively planning a spacewalk for November to examine the hole from the outside. 

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine and Rogozin talked for the first time via teleconference in mid-September and plan to meet in person in Kazakhstan for a Soyuz crew spacecraft launch to the ISS on Oct. 11. The mysterious hole will likely be a topic of conversation.

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