After a thorough investigation which included consultation with NASA, Russia is now pointing the finger to deliberate sabotage as causing a hole that created a dangerous oxygen leak on the International Space Station (ISS).
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian space agency Roskosmos, said on Monday that an official investigative report had confirmed their prior theory: “It concluded that a manufacturing defect had been ruled out which is important to establish the truth,” he said.
Damage to the craft first uncovered in late August while it was anchored to the International Space Station (ISS) alarmed engineers and raised suspicion of foul play — a possibility at first thought remote — but an air leak was initially thought to be the result of a micrometeorite colliding with the vessel.
Concerning the drill hole, the Russian space agency chief continued, “Where it was made will be established by a second commission, which is at work now.” The agency is now actively seeking the person or persons responsible for drilling the hole.
A report of the new findings in Yahoo news summarizes of prior suggestions that it was a mere accident or assembly defect:
Now it appears that isn’t the case, and that the hole was created specifically to cause problems for the crew. Who created it remains to be seen, but the Russian space agency is clearly taking this all incredibly seriously and whoever was responsible will likely face some incredibly stiff punishment.
An initial inquiry from early September, related in Russian media, had described the possibility of a “reckless assembly worker” reported to have made a manufacturing error that had possibly opened up further once in space. However, the latest formal investigation reveals the Russians believe the damage is far beyond a mere manufacturing error, and have thus dismissed the idea that it was accidental or an assembly error.
Previously a Russian space program source described to TASS news agency that “There are drilling traces not only inside the living module [of the ISS], but also on anti-meteorite plates.”
These plates have been described in media reports as “mounted outside of the station’s hermetic hull”.