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Spacewalk to inspect hole in Soyuz spacecraft’s hull scheduled for December

There are no more specific dates so far, Roscosmos Executive Director for Manned Programs Sergei Krikalyov said

STAR CITY /Moscow Region/, October 17. /TASS/. A spacewalk to inspect a hole in the manned Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft’s hull delayed from mid-November over the abortive launch of the Soyuz-FG carrier rocket is planned for December, Roscosmos Executive Director for Manned Programs Sergei Krikalyov said on Wednesday.

"We are planning this during the crew changeover. [Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko] will arrive while [Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergei] Prokopyev [currently staying on the International Space Station] won’t leave yet. So, we will be planning for this moment, for December. There are no more specific dates so far," Krikalyov said.

"It is understandable that this won’t take place on the first day after the crew’s arrival as it will be necessary to prepare spacesuits," the Roscosmos official said.

As Krikalyov said, the next manned flight to the orbital outpost is planned for early December. The Cosmonaut Training Center earlier told TASS that there were no plans to change the crew’s composition and the next expedition would comprise Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and astronaut of the Canadian Space Agency David Saint-Jacques.

Soyuz hull damage

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.

The head of the Roscosmos corporation, Dmitry Rogozin, said the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft 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.

Soyuz aborted launch

A Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with a manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft blasted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, at 11:40 a.m. Moscow time. On board the spacecraft were Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin (the commander of the Soyuz MS-10) and NASA astronaut Nick Hague.

Following a smooth liftoff, the Soyuz’s booster malfunctioned between the first and second stages of separating, whereupon the crew was forced to abort the flight and switch to ballistic descent. The manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft ended up landing in the Kazakh steppe.

The press office of Russia’s Central Military District reported that rescuers recovered the crew from the descent capsule. Later, the crewmembers were examined and found to be in good condition. After their medical check-up in the town of Baikonur, the astronauts were transported to Moscow.

This is the first emergency landing with this type of carrier rocket over the past 35 years.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague, who returned to Moscow from the Baikonur spaceport on October 12 after the Soyuz booster’s failure, flew to the United States on October 13, the Cosmonaut Training Center’s press service told TASS.