Did an American Astronaut Sabotage the International Space Station?

The mystery behind a hole found in a vessel connected to the International Space Station (ISS) has recently taken a bizarre turn, as some media outlets in Russia are claiming the damage was intentionally caused by American astronauts. These reports are being refuted by the six astronauts onboard the station, as well as the American and Russian space agencies.

The small hole was discovered on August 30, aboard a Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft attached to the space station.

“A probe is underway. As long as the investigation continues, it will be utterly wrong to pronounce any such verdicts. The final results are to be obtained first to find out the origin of the hole. It should not be ruled out that faulty workmanship is to blame,” said Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov.

International Space Station
The International Space Station (ISS) seen in orbit above the Earth. Image: NASA.

The 2mm (1/12th inch) long hole was patched with epoxy resin. Investigation of the damage revealed it had been caused from inside the vehicle. The American space agency NASA believes the hole was the result of a manufacturing error.

On September 11, the Russian news outlet Kommersant published a theory that American astronauts purposely damaged the Soyuz in an effort to return back to Earth earlier than scheduled. The story claimed one of the astronauts was feeling ill, and the crew wished to provide the occupant with full medical treatment back on Earth. If such an evacuation had been ordered, three crew members would have returned home utilizing the Soyuz, after the section with the damage was discarded.

If the Soyuz were needed to bring a sick astronaut back to Earth, NASA would have been responsible to pay the $85 million cost of the trip. A reluctance to pay that cost, Kommersant stated, was the motive behind the alleged sabotage. The report claims that drill marks found around the hole is evidence that the damage was the result of an astronaut drilling into the vehicle while floating weightless in space.

Early reports stated the space travellers plugged the hole with their fingers prior to using duct tape, a claim NASA firmly denies.

The Soyuz spacecraft in which the damage was found arrived at the International Space Station in June.

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