Last year, astronauts aboard the International Space Station patched a hole with an undetermined cause. Today, Roscomos says that they have identified the reason but will not disclose the details of the investigation. Nonetheless, NASA insists on knowing.
In Russian-based news outlets, they have reported that Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos (the Russian space agency), have expressed that they will opt to keep the cause of an air leak discovered at the ISS in 2018 a secret.
Initially, NASA reported a slow drop in cabin pressure at the station on August 29-30, 2018. The crew of Expedition 56 then said to have located the cause of the air leak in the orbital compartment of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, a crew vehicle that was docked to the station at the time, nearly three months after the vessel arrived at the ISS with three new crew members on board.
As a temporary fix, astronauts at the time plugged the hole using epoxy, gauze and heavy-duty tape to prevent it from further affecting the atmosphere on the ISS.
Roscosmos then told that they will conduct a more thorough investigation to determine the cause of the breach, which Russian news outlets now report finished one year after the breach was first detected.
Despite reports, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has promised to speak personally with the head of the Russian space agency.
“They have not told me anything,” Bridenstine said during a Houston energy conference question session Thursday (September 19), according to an article. But he emphasized that he wants to keep good relations with the Russians, one of the two chief partners on the orbiting complex.
“I don’t want to let one item set [the relationship] back, but it is clearly not acceptable that there are holes in the International Space Station,” he said
Bridenstine’s comments came in the wake of a report by Russia’s state-run international news agency RIA Novosti, in which Rogozin suggested his agency found what created the hole last year, but would not disclose the results outside of Roscosmos.
“What happened is clear to us, but we won’t tell you anything,” Rogozin said at a meeting with participants at a science conference, according to a computer-translated page from RIA Novosti’s Russian-language report on Wednesday (September 18).
In the first few weeks of identifying the leak. Roscosmos director Rogozin first speculated that a micrometeoroid might have punched the hole, then suggested that the breach that was detected in a Russian spacecraft was not the result of a manufacturing defect. According to the Russian space agency, it was investigating the possibility that it was drilled maliciously.
However, NASA has quickly expressed doubts over the Russian theory that the tiny hole that caused an air leak on the ISS was the result of sabotage.
NASA countered in a statement that ruling out defects “does not necessarily mean the hole was created intentionally or with mal-intent.”
Russian space agency Roscosmos immediately launched an investigation into the hole, and Rogozin went on television days later to say it could have been the result of foul play either back on Earth or by astronauts in space.
The Russian daily Kommersant reported that an investigation at home was probing the possibility that US astronauts deliberately drilled the hole to get a sick colleague sent back home. Sometime later, however, Russian officials later denied the allegation.
NASA and Roscosmos issued a joint statement in mid-September 2018 after the two agency chiefs spoke by phone.
The agencies “agreed on deferring any preliminary conclusions and providing any explanations until the final investigation has been completed,” Roscosmos and NASA said in their statement.
As of the moment, it remains unclear what Russian officials know for sure regarding the existence of the 2018 ISS air leak but both space agencies, who predominantly oversee the maintenance and use of the space station, have worked well in the past and may go over the details.