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Leak At ISS Caused By 'Drill Hole,' Roscosmos Says


A section of the International Space Station

A pressure leak at the International Space Station (ISS) last week was a drill hole that happened during manufacturing or in orbit, the chief of Russia's space agency says.

Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin made the comments late on September 3, after Russian officials initially said the hole was most likely caused by a collision with a small meteorite.

The leak detected on August 30 was traced to a small hole in a compartment of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked with ISS.

Astronauts used a sealant and tape to seal the leak, which caused a small loss of pressure that was not life-threatening, NASA and Roscosmos have said.

Rogozin said the hole was drilled by "an unsteady hand" potentially during manufacturing or while the capsule was already in orbit.

He did not say whether one of the astronauts aboard the ISS -- three Americans from the NASA space agency, two cosmonauts from Russia, and a German from the European Space Agency -- were suspected.

A state commission will seek to identify the culprit, Rogozin also said, calling this a "matter of honor" for Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation that made the Soyuz.

A Roscosmos spokesman told the TASS news agency on September 4 that the commission is expected to complete its probe in mid-September.

Energia will carry out checks for possible defects on all Soyuz ships and unmanned Progress ships used for cargo at its production site outside Moscow and at Baikonur, Kazakhstan, RIA Novosti reported, citing a space industry source.

Meanwhile, a space industry source in Russia was quoted as saying that the spacecraft could have been damaged during testing at the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome after passing initial checks.

"Someone messed up and then got scared and sealed up the hole," the source told TASS, but then the sealant "dried up and fell off" when the Soyuz reached the ISS.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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