As the Inquisitr reported on September 4, 2018, a small leak was detected in the Russian Soyuz MS-09 orbital module attached to the International Space Station on August 29. The leak caused a slight depressurization in the module, but not enough to cause harm to any occupants.
The leak was patched by the astronauts and cosmonauts living on the space station, but speculation ran wild as to whether it might have been caused intentionally or was a natural occurrence. Now, Space.com reports that the Russians have started a formal investigation into the incident.
According to a joint statement from both agencies, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine participated in a teleconference with Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin, during which Rogozin informed Bridenstine that the Russian space organization intended to launch the investigation. The statement also said the following regarding rumor and speculation:
“The administrator and the general director noted speculations circulating in the media regarding the possible cause of the incident and agreed on deferring any preliminary conclusions and providing any explanations until the final investigation has been completed.”
Although the leak could have been caused by a tiny meteorite or launch stresses, Rogozin also picked up on speculation by former cosmonaut Maxim Surayev that it could have been sabotage, giving rise to the rumor-mongering in the first place. In a bizarre statement, Surayev argued that someone could have intentionally sabotaged the module so they could “go home,” but that doesn’t make a lot of sense, considering that the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft is the cosmonauts’ ride home. Surayez said that he hopes it’s a manufacturing defect, but that he had seen nothing like it in any other Russian spacecraft, and that is what sparked his speculation.
On Tuesday, mission Commander Drew Feustel responded to the allegations of sabotage, defending the six-person crew to Space.com. “I can unequivocally say that the crew had nothing do with this,” he said, noting that he thought it was a shame that anyone would even posit that a crew member would engage in any act that would endanger the rest of the crew.
In the Inquisitr‘s prior reporting on the issue, Russia Today is quoted as saying that spacecraft manufacturer Energia is taking responsibility, saying that a worker accidentally drilled the hole and repaired it without reporting it several months ago, and that the patching material might have come loose. It’s unclear why the general director would speculate about onboard sabotage when a Russian agency stepped forward to take responsibility, but the investigation should determine the truth.
Expedition 56 consists of six crew members: three American astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts, and one German astronaut. They will return to Earth in October, at which time General Director Rogozin and Administrator Bridenstine will meet face-to-face for the first time.