Is a saboteur really running amok on the International Space Station – and using a drill to create tiny holes in the wall of the Russian section?
NASA issued a statement to limit speculation, after the Russian space agency Roscosmos ‘ruled out’ a manufacturing defect.
Previously, wild and unsubstantiated rumours had circulated in Russian media that the hole had been drilled by a NASA astronaut – possibly because he was homesick and wished to return to Earth.
In a statement this week, Dimitri Rogosin, general director of Roscosmos, said, ‘It concluded that a manufacturing defect had been ruled out which is important to establish the truth.
‘Where it was made will be established by a second commission, which is at work now.’
Roscosmos and NASA have now both opened their own investigations of the hole, which was 2mm wide and appeared in August on a Russian Soyuz capsule.
But NASA said today that Rogosin’s statement did not necessarily mean the hole was caused by sabotage.
The space agency said that the statement by Roscosmos ‘indicates that this is an isolated issue which does not categorically affect future production.’
NASA spokeswoman Megan Powers said on Wednesday that, while intentional damage remains one of the possibilities under review, ‘we’re not expecting it was a bad actor … we don’t think that’s the most likely conclusion.’
Powers added: ‘We will find the reason and we will reveal the reason no matter what it is.’
The hole has been repaired using tape and sealant.