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Russian cosmonauts are in space to find out the origin of a mysterious hole



This morning, the two Russian crew members embark on a spacewalk aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to investigate a mysterious hole that appeared in a visitor's spaceship emanating air from the ISS several months ago. The origin of the hole has yet to be determined, and its existence has spawned many wild rumors of sabotage in space. Today's walk could help determine officially how the hole was made.

The astronauts on the ISS discovered the hole at the end of August, after NASA air traffic controllers discovered that the air pressure was decreasing, a sign that air was slowly emerging from the water station. In fact, crewmembers attributed the problem to a hole about two millimeters wide in one of the visiting Soyuz capsules used to transport astronauts to and from the station. Astronauts quickly mended the hole with epoxy on a cheesecloth, and the station's pressure had been fine ever since.

At first, the hole was thought to be a tiny meteorite rammed into the Soyuz. However, pictures of the hole showed a particularly clean, round opening ̵

1; as if it had been made by a drill. Small drill marks appeared to be near the hole, indicating that the drill had missed a few times. After this discovery, Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space company Roscosmos, said that an investigation would look at all the possibilities of how the hole was made – whether on Earth or in space. This triggered a lot of rumors about possible astronaut sabotage, and Russian tabloid press even suggested that one of the American astronauts force an evacuation of the ISS to help a sick teammate.


An image of the hole in the Soyuz, posted by NASA and then deleted.
Image: NASA

The speculation became so bad that NASA and Roscosmos issued a joint statement that the two organizations work closely together to find out the cause of the hole, and the public assures the entire crew of the ISS dedicated to the safe operation of the station and all docked spacecraft to ensure the mission success.

Currently, the leading theory is that the hole was made while the sojus was being made. It is possible that an unknown worker accidentally drilled a hole in the wrong place and hastily tried to cover it up before starting. Then, at some point – possibly after the Soyuz was docked to the ISS – the cautious cover the worker made was torn out of place and the hole was uncovered.

However, no formal conclusion was drawn as to why Russia opted for today's spacewalk. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev will leave the space station at about 11:00 (ET) to investigate the outside of the docked Soyuz. You will remove the thermal insulation and the meteorite shield on the outside of the hole from the hole, and take samples that will be returned to Earth according to TASS . In fact, the same Soyuz is responsible for returning these samples when boarding with three crew members on December 20.

NASA broadcasts live coverage of the Russian spacewalk, which is expected to take up to six hours.


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