Late last week, reports emerged that there was a leak on the Russian side of the International Space Station which was then quickly fixed using some glue and epoxy. Russia has since launched an investigation into the incident which was initially believed to be a rogue piece of space rock hitting the side of the lab fast enough to punch a hole clean through.
The Russian space agency has since made a statement wherein sabotage is mentioned. Chief of Russia's space agency Dmitry Rogozin has said the leak could have been deliberately caused, with a drill, reports Phys.org. The hole was found in a Russian spacecraft docked to the ISS and not directly on the lab itself, he said. The hole could have been drilled either on Earth before launch, or after the craft docked with the lab in space.
Using just a bit of tape and some epoxy, astronauts on board were able to fix it, but it did cause any loss in cabin pressure, albeit, not a life threatening one, notes the report. "There were several attempts at drilling," Rogozin said, in a televised interview. He also added that the drill seemed to have been operated by a "wavering hand", notes the report.
Roscosmos is going ahead with the investigation to see if the theory that the hole was drilled on Earth before launch, he said, "But there is another version that we do not rule out: deliberate interference in space."
If found, a state-sponsored commission will find the culprit. He went on to call it a, "matter of honour" for the Energiya space manufacturing company that manufactures the Soyuz capsules -- as of now the only way to get humans to space.
When questioned, NASA directed the question back to Russia as they are overseeing the commission's analysis, notes the report.
Rogozin went on to say that the initial theory that the hole was caused by a meteorite is now ruled out.
The report mentions that a Russian MP and former cosmonaut Maxim Surayev has suggested that a mentally disturbed astronaut onboard the ISS could have drilled a hole in an attempt to get back home. "We're all human," he said, and anyone might want to go home, "but this method is really low." said Surayev, a member of President Vladimir Putin's ruling party, notes the report.
The former ISS researcher who served two stints in the space lab went on to call this a "strange stunt".
However, not everyone seems to agree with this angle. Alexander Zheleznyakov, for example, as a former space industry engineer and current author, told TASS that drilling a hole like this in near zero gravity is almost impossible, especially in that section of the spacecraft which will not be used to carry people back to Earth.
There is also a prevailing theory from the Russian space industry where insiders have reportedly said that the craft could have gotten damaged while testing. It could have been a mistake that was hastily covered up, notes the report.
Right now, there are six researchers on board the ISS; two from Russia, three from NASA and the commander of the facility, a German astronaut of the ESA.