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Russia Says Space Station Hole Was Drilled by 'Human Hand'

Leak may have been sabotage, head of Russia's space agency says
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2018 2:47 PM CDT
In this June 24, 2018 photo released by NASA, the Russian Soyuz MS-09 crew craft, left, and the Northrop Grumman (formerly Orbital ATK) Cygnus space freighter are attached to the International Space Station.   (NASA via AP)

(Newser) – The small leak found on the International Space Station was initially said to have been caused by a meteorite, but the chief of Russia's space agency now says the hole that caused last week's leak was drilled. The meteorite theory "has been rejected because the spaceship's hull was evidently impacted from inside ... It was done by a human hand—there are traces of a drill sliding along the surface," Dmitry Rogozin told Russian news agency Tass, per NBC News. The hole was found not on the ISS itself but on a Soyuz spacecraft docked there. It could be evidence of sabotage, Rogozin says, but it could also be an "accidental defect" from the craft's construction.

NASA, which last week announced a commission had been formed to determine the leak's source, has not commented on Rogozin's statement. The leak, which caused a small and not life-threatening loss of pressure, was sealed Thursday. A Russian MP and former cosmonaut suggested to Russia's RIA Novosti, per AFP, that an astronaut on board may have drilled the hole in order to force an early return home: "I wish to God that this is a production defect, although that's very sad, too—there's been nothing like this in the history of Soyuz ships," Maxim Surayev said. Meanwhile, a space industry source suggested to Tass that the spacecraft may have passed initial checks during production but was then damaged, with the hole hastily sealed, and the sealant then "dried up and fell off" once the craft reached the ISS. (Read more International Space Station stories.)

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