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Russian Law Enforcement Examining Samples From Soyuz Spacecraft Hole

Russian cosmonauts conduct a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on December 11.

Russia's Roskosmos space agency has turned over to law enforcement agents samples taken from a mysterious hole in a Soyuz capsule docked at the International Space Station (ISS).

Cosmonaut Sergei Propkopyev said on December 24 that investigators were examining the samples he and fellow cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko obtained during a spacewalk on December 12.

The 2-millimeter hole was detected on August 30 and the crew was able to patch it and prevent any further leak of oxygen.

Prokopyev said at a news conference that the hole began from the interior of the spacecraft, but "it's up to the investigative organs to judge when that hole was made."

Roskosmos head Dmitry Rogozin said in September that the hole might have been drilled when the capsule was built or after it arrived at the ISS.

The samples were handed over to a Federal Security Service (FSB) laboratory for examination. The Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified source "familiar with the investigation" as saying "initial results could be received next week."

The two cosmonauts returned to Earth together with German astronaut Alexander Gerst on December 20.

Based on reporting by AP, TASS, and Interfax