MOSCOW, December 12. /TASS/. A container with samples and pieces of anti-meteorite shield taken from the Soyux MS-09 spacecraft during spacewalk early on Wednesday will be handed over to "relevant agencies" upon its return to Earth on December 20, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin told TASS on Wednesday.
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergei Prokopyev are completing their spacewalk which began on Tuesday evening to inspect the hole in Soyuz which caused a pressure leak in August. They took several samples from the outer side of the hull and removed a small section of the anti-meteorite shield which presumably contains signs of drilling.
"On December 20, the spacecraft will return to the Earth and after that we will hand over the container to relevant agencies. What happens next depends completely on them... Our work will be over when the ship and the crew return to the Earth," Rogozin said.
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 attached to the orbital outpost. 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.
Shortly after, experts on the ground came to the conclusion that the hole was drilled from the inside of the spacecraft. It is yet unclear whether it was damaged on the ground or by someone from the ISS crew. In both cases, neither a deliberate action nor accidental damage has yet been ruled out.