Russia Says It Will Keep Source of Hole (and Air Leak) on Soyuz Secret— But NASA Wants to Know: Report
Russia’s Soyuz MS-09 crew spacecraft is is shown docked to the International Space Station (ISS). The MS-09 carried NASA astronaut Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, the European Space Agency’s Alexander Gerst and cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev to the ISS in June 2018.
(Image: © NASA)
Amid reports that the Russians will keep the cause of an air leak discovered at the International Space Station in 2018 secret, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has promised to speak personally with the head of the Russian space agency.
“They have not told me anything,” Bridenstine said during a Houston energy conference question session Thursday (Sept. 19), according to the Houston Chronicle. But he emphasized that he wants to keep good relations with the Russians, one of the two chief partners on the orbiting complex.
“I don’t want to let one item set [the relationship] back, but it is clearly not acceptable that there are holes in the International Space Station,” he said, referring to the 2-millimeter (0.08 inches) hole that the Expedition 56 crew found in the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, a crew vehicle that was docked to the station.
Bridenstine’s comments came in the wake of a report by Russia’s state-run international news agency RIA Novosti, in which Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos (the Russian space agency), suggested his agency found what created the hole last year, but would not disclose the results outside of Roscosmos.
“What happened is clear to us, but we won’t tell you anything,” Rogozin said at a meeting with participants at a science conference, according to a computer-translated page from RIA Novosti’s Russian-language report on Wednesday (Sept. 18).
After NASA reported a slow drop in cabin pressure at the station on Aug. 29, 2018, the crew of Expedition 56 located the cause of the air leak in the orbital compartment of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, nearly three months after the vessel arrived at the International Space Station with three new crewmembers on board.
The astronauts plugged the hole using epoxy, gauze and heavy-duty tape, and the Russians launched an investigation. In the first few weeks, Roscosmos director Dmitry Rogozin first speculated that a micrometeoroid might have punched the hole, then suggested the hole could have been drilled by a human either accidentally or deliberately.