Published: Wed, December 12, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Space station crew to inspect mysterious hole on spacewalk

Space station crew to inspect mysterious hole on spacewalk

This might have been lost in the relentless cacophony of absurdity that was all of the news of 2018, but do you by any chance remember how back in September the Russians found a hole that appeared to be deliberately drilled in the Soyuz module docked with the International Space Station?

As TASS reports, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergei Prokopyev will be taking a close-up look at the exterior of the Russian-built Soyuz MS-09, which is now docked to the International Space Station.

After more than five hours of a rare broadcast - showing the cosmonauts in space trying to cut through an insulate of the spacecraft with a knife - they uncovered the external part of the hole, originally discovered in the capsule's internal covering, and took samples of the exterior insulation. The Soyuz capsule itself is scheduled for re-entry back to Earth on December 20.

The hole, measuring just a tenth of an inch wide, was the source of an alarming air leak detected on the International Space Station in August.

Expedition 57 flight engineers Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos conducted the 7-hour and 45-minute spacewalk.

The capsule had already been repaired from the inside in August, before it transported a new crew to the space station in June.

To reach the area needed to perform the inspection, Kononenko rode at the end of two Russian Strela booms, translating from the Pirs docking compartment where the spacewalk began to the Zarya functional cargo block (FGB) and then up alongside the Soyuz. Kononenko then used a pair of shears to cut through in order to see the small black dot of epoxy that made its way through the hole. They'll also collect some surface samples around the hole and bring them back to the ISS for analysis.

The spacewalk will be the fourth of Kononenko's career and he'll be wear a spacesuit with red stripes on this journey, while Prokopyev will bear blue stripes for his second spacewalk.

The Soyuz spacecraft is used to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. But Russian officials stated a few days after the hole was discovered that, based on its shape, it looked to have been drilled. Pressure quickly returned to normal aboard the space station, and the patch job has held since then.

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