Samples cut around Soyuz hole in spacewalk

15 Décembre, 2018, 15:11 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Samples cut around Soyuz hole in spacewalk

The small fracture on the hull of the Soyuz spacecraft was found after an air leak occurred on the ISS in late August.

Russian media reported the investigation was probing the possibility U.S. astronauts deliberately drilled the hole in order to get a sick colleague sent back home.

As for the nature of the hole in the spacecraft, the source believes that Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Oleg Kononenko, who performed a spacewalk to examine the hole on the night of December 11-12, might have unintentionally destroyed traces.

What makes it especially hard is that the Soyuz spacecraft, unlike the ISS, was not created to be repaired in spacewalks and has no outside railings for astronauts to hold onto.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Kononenko and Sergei spent the first four hours of their ISS spacewalk simply making their way to the site of the hole, covering a distance of approximately 30 meters (100 feet).

"It is time to go home", a voice from the control centre said shortly before the cosmonauts started moving back toward the space station.

Russian media reported the investigation was probing the possibility U.S. astronauts deliberately drilled the hole to get a sick colleague sent back home. Both theories stated at first the whole was made on objective, but that rhetoric watered down eventually and the Russians are now waiting for official results of the analysis.

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Soyuz is comprised of a rocket which carries a capsule into space and after launch the capsule and the rocket separate with the rocket returning to Earth and the capsule continuing onward.

The samples will be sent to Earth to "get at the truth" of the cavity's origins, the space agency said.

They unsealed the thermal insulation layer and the meteorite shield, inspected and photographed the hole and also scraped off samples from the hole's surface.

The space walk was the fourth for Kononenko and the second for Prokopyev.

Rogozin called the spacewalk "unprecedented in its complexity" on Twitter and Roscosmos said it would "enter the history of space exploration".

The samples collected will be analyzed to shed light on one of ISS' largest mysteries, one because of which Russian Federation started pointing fingers at the USA and the Soyuz builders for intentionally having made the whole.

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