An air leak coming from the Soyuz module led astronauts to find a 2mm hole, one that was conclusively not made by a micrometeorite and was determined to be done over the course of several attempts by someone with a "wavering hand", according to Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia's space agency.
Crew members used tape to cover the hole and experts speculated that it could have been caused by the impact of a high-speed rocky fragment flying through space. While not an immediate risk, they investigated and found a hole on the inside of the Soyuz habitation module, which is now docked at the space station. So far, the capsule has remained secure and pressure on board the space station has maintained.
Hence the precarious, hours-long spacewalk where one cosmonaut tried to hold the shielding back while the other kept cutting and looking for the hole.
Nasa said that Kononenko will use a knife to cut through insulation and the protective covering of the Soyuz to locate the outside of the hole. Kononenko and Sergei Prokopyev are inspecting a section where a mysterious leak appeared on August 30.
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The spacewalkers reported seeing no drill marks around the black dot, like on the inside. As they cut into the spacecraft, small fragments of the material floated away and formed a cloud of debris.
Kononenko used a pair of forceps and a swab to collect samples of the dark epoxy.
"The active participation of worldwide partners, primarily NASA, in the investigation is not expected, although we have called for a joint investigation and been ready to provide available materials: photos, videos, documents, samples of materials taken during the spacewalk", the source said.
Another look at Kononenko (in the spacesuit with red stripes) and Sergey Prokopyev (with blue stripes), cutting into the exterior insulation of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft during a December 11. The extravehicular activity (EVA) was the 213th spacewalk in support of assembly and maintenance in the 20-year history of the space station. Problems during re-entry of the actual landing capsule of the Soyuz in the earth's atmosphere, the space agencies, Roscosmos and Nasa. Prokopyev now has spent 15 hours and 31 minutes on EVA.