Cosmonauts on Spacewalk Cut Into Soyuz Spacecraft to Inspect Patched Hole

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Two Russian cosmonauts ventured outside the International Space Station today (Dec. 11) to cut into a spacecraft and inspect the source of a’pressurization leak‘that briefly plagued the outpost earlier this year.

Expedition 57 flight engineers Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos conducted the 7-hour and 45-minute spacewalk. The two cosmonauts worked on the exterior of the Russian Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, where the space station’s crew had earlier found and’repaired the leak from the inside.

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Russian cosmonauts venture outside the International Space Station in ‘unprecedented’ six

Two Russian cosmonauts have ventured outside the International Space Station today to inspect a section of a Russian spacecraft where a small hole was spotted.’

The mysterious leak was discovered on 30th August in the Russian Soyuz craft which is attached to the ISS.’

It was initially believed to have been caused by a small meteorite and astronauts used tape to seal the leak after it caused a minor loss of pressure.

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Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev’s six-hour-long spacewalk began at 1600 GMT, a live broadcast by Roscosmos showed.

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After more than five hours of a rare broadcast – showing the cosmonauts in space trying to cut through an insulate of the spacecraft with a knife – they uncovered the external part of the hole, originally discovered in the capsule’s internal covering, and took samples of the exterior insulation.

Spacewalkers cut into Soyuz shield, find leak site

Apparently the result of a deliberate act, an earlier station crew plugged the hole within a day of its discovery, and no issues are expected when the Soyuz MS-09/55S spacecraft undocks and returns to Earth next Thursday. The upper orbital module where the hole is located will be discarded, as usual, before atmospheric entry.

“I don’t know if we have a leading theory,” Sam Scimemi, director of the space station program at NASA Headquarters, told the NASA Advisory Committee last week. “You can see the hole … was drilled, we do know that. But the circumstances on how it was drilled, we don’t have a clear answer on that.”

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VIDEO: Cosmonauts Slice Spacecraft For Clues To Cause Of Mysterious Hole

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko performs a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Tuesday. Kononenko and Sergei Prokopyev are inspecting a section where a mysterious leak appeared on Aug. 30. AP hide caption

The video footage is surreal, a pair of gloved spacesuit hands wielding what looks like a silver dagger, poised to stab the outside of a Russian spacecraft.

“Honestly I can’t look at that,” cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev says, as voiced by a translator, while fellow cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko slices into the side of the Soyuz MS-09 capsule. “It’s my vehicle, Oleg!”

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Spacewalking astronauts check site of capsule leak
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