In 2018, astronauts on the International Space Station plugged a 2-mm “hole” in a Soyuz MS-09 vehicle that docked with the station in June of that year. Although the pressure leak never posed an immediate threat to those on board, it caused a bizarre reversal of events that led to Russia opening an investigation to find out if the incident was the result of sabotage.
Per an RIA Novosti article spotted Ars Technica, the Roscosmos space agency recently completed an investigation into the incident and sent the results to Russian police officers, opening the door for them to publish criminal charges. Roscosmos did not say anything official about the cause of the pressure leak, but that did not stop the Russian media from spreading misinformation.
The RIA Novosti the article cites Russian media reports stating that the hole may have been drilled by NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, a member of the ISS crew at the time of the incident. Specifically, towards Russia TASS news agency, state Izvestia the newspaper claimed that the Aunon-Chancellor may have drilled a hole out of “a desire to return to Earth because of a blood clot or a fight with it on the International Space Station”. Citing its own source, TASS claims that “the hole in the weightless state was drilled by a person who is not familiar with the design of the spaceship.”
According to NASA, the possibility that its astronauts were involved in creating a pressure leak does not exist. As Ars Technica notes, NASA knew the location of all of its astronauts before the leak began and at the time it began. None of the American astronauts on the ISS were near the Russian section where the Soyuz was anchored when the air started to leak at the time of the incident. The United States shared this information with Russia when Roscosmos launched its 2018 investigation.
“These attacks are fake and have no credibility,” said NASA administrator Bill Nelson. “I fully support Serena and stand behind all our astronauts.” We contacted NASA for additional information.
The accusations come at a time when the relationship between NASA and Roscosmos is already strained. On November 15, Russia conducted testing of anti-satellite missiles, which created a field of debris that forced astronauts on the ISS to seek shelter in their spacecraft. The United States condemned the trial, accusing the country of endangering everyone on the ISS, including Russian cosmonauts.
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