It’s now been over a month since a mysterious hole appeared in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft attached to the International Space Station. The hole was venting air out into space and had to be sealed by the astronauts in order to preserve their oxygen supply and, you know, stay alive.
The saga over who or what caused the damage has taken a number of strange turns, and Russian space agency Roscosmos just issued a statement that adds yet another wrinkle. A commission investigating the incident has determined that the hole wasn’t drilled by accident, meaning that it was indeed intentional sabotage, but by who?
In a statement yesterday the head of Roscosmos declared that the hole was intentional damage caused by someone during the manufacturing process. It was not, as had been proposed, a defect or the result of some type of accident.
“It concluded that a manufacturing defect had been ruled out which is important to establish the truth,” Dmitry Rogozin, the Roscosmos boss said. “Where it was made will be established by a second commission, which is at work now.”
This has always been the worst-case scenario for the investigation into this bizarre incident. At first, the hole was suspected to be the result of micrometeorite damage but that was ruled out quickly. Then, once it became apparent that the hole was drilled — and created while the spacecraft was still on Earth — it was hoped that it was merely accidental damage that was poorly repaired.
Now it appears that isn’t the case, and that the hole was created specifically to cause problems for the crew. Who created it remains to be seen, but the Russian space agency is clearly taking this all incredibly seriously and whoever was responsible will likely face some incredibly stiff punishment.