Science

Cosmonauts to examine mystery hole on ISS spacewalk

Cosmonauts to examine mystery hole on ISS spacewalk”

It was late August when a mysterious hole was discovered in a Soyuz spacecraft attached to the International Space Station.

The two Russians performed the space walk on December 11, as part of an effort by Roskosmos to pinpoint the cause of the hole, which was found in August in the docked Soyuz capsule and strained relations between the Russian and US space agencies.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko peels away thermal insulation from Soyuz MS-09 after slicing into it with a knife.

The crew aboard the space station has, since the leak was discovered and repaired, conducted frequent leak detection work and pressure measurements to make sure that the leak stayed sealed and the pressure on the space station remained normal.

He said recently that the Russian official probe is ongoing and some of the station's crew who are set to come back to Earth on December 20 will take the samples that are collected during the spacewalk.

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. Following a deorbit burn, the three sections of the Soyuz spacecraft-the Orbital Module, Descent Module and Service Module-are separated with only the Descent Module with its human occupants making it to the ground safely.

The spacewalkers reported seeing no drill marks around the black dot, like on the inside. The residue, stowed inside a bag, was brought back inside the space station and will be returned to Earth for analysis.

The Soyuz spacecraft is used to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. It was their fourth and second spacewalks, respectively. However, Mission Control in Moscow decided that because the vehicle was returning to Earth next week, it was not necessary.

Soyuz MS-09 is set to depart the space station with Prokopyev, Gerst and Aunon-Chancellor at 8:42 p.m. EST Dec. 19 (01:42 GMT Dec. 20).

Kononenko, who arrived at the station earlier this month with NASA astronaut Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, said in a pre-flight interview that the spacewalk would be strenuous.

It was all part of an attempt Tuesday to solve the mystery of the leaking International Space Station.



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