SPEAKING OF SPACE, RUSSIA HAS CONCERNS ABOUT THAT HOLE IN THE ISS
Speaking of space, what about that "hole" in the Russian Soyuz capsule docked at the International Space Station, originally thought to have been caused by a "micro-meteorite?" According to these two articles shared by Ms. M.K. and Mr. V.T., the head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Dmitri Rogozin, is now claiming that the hole was drilled:
Citing the phys.org version of this story, one senses a bit of confusion on just who, and when, the hole was drilled:
"There were several attempts at drilling," Rogozin said late Monday in televised comments, adding that the drill appeared to have been held by a "wavering hand".
"What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?" he asked.
"We are checking the Earth version. But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space."
A state commission will seek to identify the culprit by name, Rogozin said, calling this a "matter of honour" for Russia's Energiya space manufacturing company that made the Soyuz.
Asked for comment on allegations of possible sabotage, a NASA spokeswoman referred all questions to the Russian space agency which is overseeing the commission's analysis.
- 'Strange stunt'-
Rogozin had said the hole in the side of the ship used to ferry astronauts was most likely caused from outside by a tiny meteorite, but later admitted it had been ruled out.
A Russian MP who is a former cosmonaut suggested that a psychologically disturbed astronaut could have done it to force an early return home.
"We're all human, and anyone might want to go home, but this method is really low," Maxim Surayev of President Vladimir Putin's ruling party, told RIA Novosti state news agency,
"If a cosmonaut pulled this strange stunt—and that can't be ruled out—it's really bad," said Surayev, who spent two stints on the ISS.
"I wish to God that this is a production defect, although that's very sad, too—there's been nothing like this in the history of Soyuz ships."
Alexander Zheleznyakov, a former space industry engineer and author, told TASS state news agency however that drilling the hole in zero gravity would be nearly impossible in that part of the spacecraft.
"Why would cosmonauts do it?" he asked.
The hole is in a section of the Soyuz ship that will not be used to carry astronauts back to Earth.
A space industry source told TASS that the spacecraft could have been damaged during testing at Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan after passing initial checks and the mistake was then hastily covered up.
"Someone messed up and then got scared and sealed up the hole," the source speculated, but then the sealant "dried up and fell off" when the Soyuz reached the ISS.
As the article notes, the hole appeared in a section of the Soyuz craft that will not return any astronauts or cosmonauts currently on the International Space Station to Earth. (There are currently two Russians, three Americans, and one German on the station.) The Daily Mail article, however, raises another disturbing question:
However, as the investigation went on it began to look like the hole was made from someone inside as opposed to outside, either back on Earth or in space, the Russian space agency claimed.
A leading theory from an unnamed source at Energia has said that the hole was made on the ground – potentially caused by 'deliberate interference' – with suggestions the person responsible may have already been identified.
'There were several attempts at drilling,' Rogozin said late Monday in televised comments.
He added that the drill appeared to have been held by a 'wavering hand.'
'What is this: a production defect or some premeditated actions?' he asked.
'We are checking the Earth version. But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space.'
Another anonymous source said the hole was not made intentionally but by a worker who hid their mistake with a seal instead of reporting it.
If it was made on the ground, it seems the patched hole held for two months before the seal began to break.
One source told RIS Novosti that 'the glue dried and was squeezed out, opening the hole'.
So in other words, there are currently two basic theories: (1) the hole was caused by a worker on the ground who attempted to conceal his mistake with a temporary seal, and (2) there was an act of deliberate sabotage, either on the ground, or in space.
What is noteworthy is that Mr. Rogozin appears to favor the second hypothesis, and this raises some nasty high octane speculative possibilities, and I am certain the reader probably already has most of those possibilities running through his mind: neither the Russian ground crews nor the Russian cosmonauts currently aboard the ISS would be likely to jeopardize their own country's space program, nor the reputation of reliability of the Soyuz space capsule, by committing an act of sabotage of this nature. What is noteworthy here is that we are not being told anything about the exact location of this hole, only that it is not in a section of the Soyuz that would return astronauts and cosmonauts to Earth. If it were located there, the results of the hole on re-entry into the Earth atmosphere at high velocity could be catastrophic. But what if we're not being told the truth of its location? After all, we've been lied to before. Either way, it wouldn't be the first time that Roscosmos has alleged sabotage of one of its spacecraft. Recall a few years ago the launch of the Russian Mars probe, Phobos Grunt, which in the wake of the publication of some stunning photos of the Martian moon Phobos by the European Space Agency, was to journey to that body, land, and perform several tests and experiments, including radar tomography of the inside of the Martian satellite (which, let it be recalled, was outgassing!) That probe "malfunctioned" shortly after launch, and a Russian general made the statement that it had been sabotaged, and also blamed it on an electromagnetic means of its sabotage, clearly implicating the USA.
Fast forward to the current hole in the ISS. German astronaut Alexander Gerst plugged the hole with his finger, until temporary repairs could be made. Did Gerst drill the hole so he could play the hero? Unlikely. And since the Russian cosmonauts would have been highly unlikely to have done so and thus cause embarrassment to their own country's space program, that leaves the American astronauts. Would they have done so? Perhaps, and given the high tensions between the USA and Russia, it cannot entirely be ruled out. But this too is highly unlikely, since it would require someone to drill the hole in the small confines of the International Space Station, and not be noticed by other crew members.
Which leaves a ground based sabotage, if indeed sabotage is what happened. If so, the motive seems clear: someone wants to put the entire Russian manned space program under suspicion, since Russia, along with China, is currently the only nation that has its own public manned space program. And if sabotage was involved, then that means the perpetrator could be working for just about any other power with an interest in space.
Time, of course, will tell, but that presumes, once again, that we'll be told the truth.
See you on the -
- oh, I almost forgot. Don't forget the Russians recently indicated they'd no longer be transporting Americans in their capsules (a kind of "manned mission space blockade"). Not mind you (cough cough wink wink) that this might have anything to do with this story. After all, we can always hitch a ride from the Chinese.
See you on the flip side...
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