File photo The International Space Station is seen in this view of the space shuttle Discovery after the undocking of the two spacecraft in this photo provided by NASA and taken March 7, 2011. (REUTERS/NASA/handout)
You may remember last week there were reports of an air leak discovered on board the International Space Station. It was traced back to a small hole discovered in the Russian Soyuz capsule with the most likely cause of a collision with a fragment of the rock. But it seems that is not the source of the hole. Instead, someone back on Earth had made a mistake and tried to cover it up.
How incredible it may sound, the air leak was caused by a hole that was accidentally drilled while the Soyuz spacecraft was still on the ground. As UPI reports, the person who drilled the whole decided not to report the mistake and instead filled the hole with glue.
The best-guess explanation changed from “impact” on “human error” when an investigation of the hole apparently found the “traces of a drill slipping on the surface.” That is, according to Dmitry Rogozin, CEO of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos. Once in space, the glue that had been used to plug the hole dried up and fell off, at which point sensors warned the Expedition 56 crew on an air leak.
The hole is now filled with epoxy, thanks to the efforts of the cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergei Prokopyev. The person that the hole has apparently been identified already and I am sure that they are not the best time is now. Whoever they are, their actions in the lives of people in danger, and potentially the ISS itself.
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A cover-up, as this is unacceptable and it is sure to damage the Russian space program in terms of trust. Fortunately, the danger has passed without serious injury or death, but Roscosmos must take swift action to ensure this can never happen again, and to meet the others, including NASA, that new safety measures and work reviews are implemented quickly.
This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.