KOROLEV /Moscow region/, December 12. /TASS/. Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergei Prokofyev, who are now on a spacewalk, have found the hole in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft which caused a pressure leak at the International Space Station (ISS) this August.
The cosmonauts had to cut open the thermal insulation layer and remove the meteorite shield in order to find the hole. It was the first-ever operation to unseal the meteorite protection shield during a spacewalk in the history of space exploration.
The Russian Mission Control said the hole looks like a dark spot on the spacecraft’s shiny hull.
The Russian cosmonauts removed a section of the meteorite protection shield, which had traces of drilling on it, and placed it into a special container. The sample will be sent to the Earth for further study.
After that, Kononenko and Prokofyev will examine the hole, take photographs and samples from its surface for detailed analysis on the ground.
After that, Kononenko will patch the area with new thermal insulation material.
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.