Russian Cosmonauts Conduct Spacewalk to Investigate ISS Hole

Rodiano Bonacci
Dicembre 15, 2018

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko conducts a spacewalk outside the International Space Station Space in this still image captured from Nasa video in space.

Roscosmos and NASA both opened their own investigations of the hole, which was 2mm wide and appeared in August on a Russian Soyuz capsule.

Back in August, ISS crew members noticed a slight drop in pressure on the orbiting laboratory and eventually traced this to a hole on the inside of the habitation module of the Soyuz spacecraft, which delivered a new crew to the orbiting laboratory in June and is now docked at the space station.

"Slashing the spacecraft with a knife makes my heart bleed", Kononenko told the Mission Control Center (MCC) as he cut through the insulation layer to find a tiny hole behind the cover.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Kononenko and Sergei spent the first four hours of their ISS spacewalk simply making their way to the site of the hole, covering a distance of approximately 30 meters (100 feet).

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said in October that an investigation had ruled out a manufacturing error. As reported by Russian news organization TASS, performing the investigation and sample collection was hard because it's in an area of the ship where crew members wouldn't normally venture. It's also unclear if the samples will be sent back to Earth aboard a returning spacecraft.

The discovery of the hole was followed in October by the failure of a manned Soyuz launch, although the Russian and U.S. astronauts returned safely to Earth.

What makes it especially hard is that the Soyuz spacecraft, unlike the ISS, was not created to be repaired in spacewalks and has no outside railings for astronauts to hold onto.

The space walk was the fourth for Kononenko and the second for Prokopyev.

The ISS is one of the few areas of Russia-US co-operation that remains unaffected by the slump in relations and Washington's sanctions.

The Soyuz MS-09 will not be used to bring people back from the ISS, but is to be filled with trash and destroyed by the Earth's atmosphere during reentry.

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