MOSCOW, September 6. /TASS/. The manned spacecraft Soyuz MS-09 might have been damaged in the final assembly hangar or at the control and testing station before being dispatched to the Baikonur space site. Both the assembly hangar and the testing station are on the premises of the space rocket corporation Energia in Korolyov, near Moscow, a source in the space rocket industry told TASS.
"One of the possibilities is the spacecraft might have been damaged in the final assembly hangar. Or it could happen at the control and testing station, which carried out the final workmanship tests before the spacecraft was sent to Baikonur," the source said.
TASS has obtained no official confirmation yet.
The period of final testing may last up to 90 days, he added. Before going to the final assembly hangar the spacecraft underwent pressure chamber tests.
"It was airtight," the source said. As for the final assembly hangar and the control and testing station, he remarked that "no outsiders are let in."
"Only those with proper security clearance are allowed to enter. Also, at the entrance to the hangar and the control and measurement station there are security guards checking all those who come and go," he added.
On August 30 a drop in air pressure was registered on the ISS. The crew examined the compartments and add-on modules one by one to identify a two-millimeter hole in the hull of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft. In the evening of the same day it was patched up with several layers of epoxy resin. Pressure returned to normal. On August 31 the crew reinforced the patch with another layer of sealant.
The head of the Roscosmos corporation, Dmitry Rogozin, said the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, attached to the ISS, had been damaged with a drill from the inside. The space rocket corporation Energia is conducting an investigation to identify those responsible. Inquiries are being made into who had access to the spacecraft, what works were carried out, and who supervised them.