A Russian cosmonaut said a hole found in a capsule docked to the International Space Station was drilled from the inside, and Russian law enforcement officials are investigating how it got there.
Flight controllers in Houston and Moscow first noticed a drop in air pressure in the Soyuz capsule on Aug. 30, The Associated Press reported. The crew found the hole and plugged it with epoxy and gauze.
Cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, NASA physician-astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and German astronaut Alexander Gerst returned to Earth last week after a 197-day space station mission, landing on a snowy steppe in Kazakhstan.
Prokopyev and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko inspected the 2-millimeter hole in a spacewalk on Dec. 11.
The hole wasn’t dangerous to the crew on re-entry because the section of the capsule it appeared on was jettisoned before re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
Prokopyev said in a news conference that the hole was made from inside the dock, and “it’s up to the investigative organs to judge when that hole was made.”
Russian space agency Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said in September the hole could have been drilled when the capsule was manufactured or in orbit. He stopped short of blaming crew members, but the statement has caused tension between Roscosmos and NASA.
Rogozin has since said the media twisted his words.
When asked if the hole could have been drilled by an astronaut, Prokopyev replied, “You shouldn’t think so badly of our crew.”