NASA Rejected Russia's Proposal to Jointly Probe Hole in Soyuz

14 December, 2018, 12:57 | Author: Emilio Conner
  • Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko conducts a spacewalk outside the International Space Station Space in this still image captured from NASA video in space

Russian space officials wanted the site surveyed from the outside, before the capsule's return to Earth next week with Russian Sergei Prokopyev and two others.

The Soyuz spacecraft is used to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS.

That section of the capsule will be jettisoned as usual before re-entry, and so poses no risk for descent. The crew quickly located and sealed the tiny hole that created a slight loss of pressure, and space officials said the station has remained safe to operate.

The hole, which was patched from the inside the station, was exposed and inspected by Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev, both Expedition 57 flight engineers, during a December 11, 2018 spacewalk. It took almost four hours for them to cross the approximately 100 feet (30 meters) to get to the capsule. To expose the external hull, Kononenko needed to cut away a 10-inch (25-centimeter) swatch of thermal insulation and debris shield, a slow and hard task. Bits of shredded silver insulation floated away like confetti, as the two slashed at it with a knife and long cutters.

Until Tuesday, astronauts had only been able to examine the hole from inside the spacecraft.

"It was very hard. but we were able to get it done", one of the spacewalkers said.

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Roscosmos has ruled out a manufacturing defect causing the 2 mm-wide hole found in August on the Russian Soyuz capsule, but the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has sought to dampen speculation of sabotage, according to a Reuters report. Of course, NASA doesn't really have much choice in this regard, considering Russian Federation is now the space agency's only crewed launch partner until SpaceX and Boeing get their acts together.

The American commander who was in charge of the station at the time flatly denied any wrongdoing by himself or his crew.

Rogozin has since backpedaled on his statement, blaming the media for twisting his words.

Samples taken by the two cosmonauts will eventually be returned to Earth for investigations to be completed to find the possible cause of the hole. The spacewalk findings could lead to better fix techniques in the future, officials said.

The extravehicular activity (EVA) was the 213th spacewalk in support of assembly and maintenance in the 20-year history of the space station.

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