Bullet hole - a small stone from the universe went through our solar array. Glad it missed the hull. pic.twitter.com/iBHFVfp1p8— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) April 29, 2013
But this week, they tossed out the micrometeoroid explanation. After examining the hole, officials determined the impact was likely made from the inside of the capsule, said Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos.
“It is too early to say definitely what happened. But, it seems to be done by a faltering hand,” Rogozin said earlier this week, according to tass, Russia’s government-run news agency. “It is a technological error by a specialist. It was done by a human hand. There are traces of a drill sliding along the surface. We don’t reject any theories.”
And the spookiest part? They don’t know whether the hole was made when the Soyuz was still on Earth or while it was in space.
Rogozin vowed that officials will “find the one responsible for that, to find out whether it was an accidental defect or a deliberate spoilage and where it was done—either on Earth or in space.”
Here’s a photo of the hole, which nasa tweeted this week but later deleted, according to Chris Bergin, an editor at NASASpaceflight.com.
ISS Leak summary:— Chris B - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) September 3, 2018
First thought was MMOD strike.
Then NASA released pics. Lots of people: "Hmmm, doesn't look like MMOD". NASA deleted the photos.
Top Russian news site RIA NOVOSTI reported - via sources but apparently confirmed by Mr. Rogozin - it was a drill hole. pic.twitter.com/520kHK0TMc
The quick response to the mysterious malfunction and the seemingly collaborative effort to investigate it serves as a reminder of the good relations between the United States and Russia where the International Space Station is concerned. That kind of thing is pretty rare down on Earth. Neither nation would be able to carry out this task—operating and maintaining the biggest artificial structure in low-Earth orbit—alone. They need each other’s technology, and they need each other’s money.
Operations on the ISS are split in half, with one side run by the Americans and the other by the Russians. (This doesn’t prevent them from hanging out, of course; they spend plenty of time together, and are trained to speak both English and Russian.) The Soyuz was docked to the ISS on the Russian side, and it was empty at the time the pressurized air started to escape. But a malfunction anywhere on the station, if it were serious, would endanger everyone on it.