[FPSPACE] Gazeta.ru on hole

jameseoberg at comcast.net jameseoberg at comcast.net
Tue Sep 4 14:33:45 EDT 2018

The Hole in Soyuz is adding to the ongoing shake-up in the Russian space industry. 
Date: 3 August 2018 
Publication: - 
Title: “They Slipped on their Own Snot” – Who Drilled the Hole in the ISS? 
Author: staff 
Translator: Rob Mitchell 


Link to Original: https://www.gazeta.ru/science/2018/09/03_a_11943265.shtml 

Rogozin Does Not Exclude the Possibility that the Hole in Soyuz May Have Been Drilled in Space 

The atmosphere leaking from the ISS may have occurred during the assembly of the Soyuz. How this is possible and why the defect occurred was difficult to notice on Earth, said one of the constructors of the well-known Soyuz spacecraft. But Roscosmos head Dmitriy Rogozin reported that at present the possibility of an “intentional action in space” has not been excluded. 

The full picture of the cause of the air leak aboard the ISS has been forming, and the event was the cause of commotion in space and on Earth last week. The incident took place the night of 30 August, initially reported by the American space media, and later the information was confirmed by Roscosmos head Dmitriy Rogozin. 

“Tonight there was an anomalous situation on the ISS involving an air leak and a loss of pressure. Measures were taken to determine the leak’s location. The American crew gathered in the Russian section so that all six cosmonauts were in the Russian section of the station. The crew closed hatches systematically to isolate the location of the leak, finally locating the problem. It turned out that the drop in pressure was in the Russian segment, not in the American part of the station, and the leak was not in one of the station’s modules, but in the Soyuz MS spacecraft. 

At that time the leak was thought to have been caused by a micrometeorite impact. “The leak has been found, and there are means to fix it on board. There is no threat to the lives of the crew,” tweeted Rogozin. The leak was slow so it posed no threat. The station’s pressure fell only 0.8 millimeters of mercury per hour. At this speed full depressurization of the station would have taken 18 days. 

Initially it was reported that the leak was through two holes, but later the same day NASA reported that there was a single hole about two millimeters in diameter. The hole was discovered by European astronaut Alexander Gerst in the orbital module next to the entrance hatch next to the spacecraft’s toilet. The search took place live on NASA TV. 

At first the leak was sealed with Kapton aerospace tape. The question of what to do next caused contention on the ISS. The crew commander Andrew Feustel suggested monitoring the situation for 24 hours and developing an optimal repair plan. The Russian crew insisted on doing a permanent repair right away using sealant, insulation and medical gauze. 

In the end the night of 30 August the leak was sealed and is now completely repaired. 

There is no present threat to the crew and Roscosmos has given assurances that Soyuz MS-09 can remain docked to the ISS and return a crew to Earth in December. At the same time photos of the hole transmitted to Earth after the leak was discovered were published on the Internet. The photo taken before repair shows a round hole next to clear tool marks on the surface of the hull, most likely made by a drill. 
(photo caption – 3 September, four days after the incident, unnamed sources said the cause of the hole had been researched and found on Earth) 

“The cause of the hole in the inner hull of the orbital module of the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft has been established. It happened on Earth. The person responsible for negligence has been identified,” a source told RIA Novosti. 

The defect occurred during the construction of the Soyuz at RKK Energia. It appears that a technician saw his mistake and sealed the hole with glue, which kept the defect from being discovered during vacuum testing. “However eventually the glue dried and was pushed out of the hole, leaving it open,” another source added. 

“The Earthside version is being checked, but there is another possibility we are not excluding, which is an intentional act in space. There are traces of several attempts to drill a hole,” Rogozin later told RIA Novosti. 

RKK Energia began an internal investigation, but the company was unable to comment. Roscosmos advised awaiting the conclusions of an investigative Commission. 

Dr. Viktor Minenko, professor at Moscow State University’s Bauman Institute, formerly employed at various space industry companies including RKK Energia, who worked on the development of manned and unmanned Soyuz and Progress spacecraft, is not surprised. In his words, such incidents at Energia have occurred before. “I have conducted investigations of all kinds of spacecraft, and after landing we discovered a hole drilled completely through the hull of a re-entry module. But the technician didn’t report the defect to anyone, but sealed up the hole with epoxy. We found the person, and after a commotion he was terminated,” said Minenko. “And this comrade sealed a hole with glue, which dried out, and (you see what happens). He should have used Epoxy. 

He said the spacecraft’s hull is made from AMG-7 Aluminum alloy, and the hole could have been repaired by welding on Earth, if the worker had reported his mistake. 

“This doesn’t surprise me. It’s only surprising that the defect made it past Energia. As our old boss Eduard Krzhenevskiy used to say, ‘We’re always slipping on our own snot,” Minenko joked. “There were many such instances, most due to simple negligence. The same sort of epic took place (in Soyuz 11) when Volkov, Dobrovolskiy and Patsayev perished. They tinkered around for a long time until I found the cause. 

“That matter of the upside-down sensors on the Proton booster,” says science journalist and popularizer Vitaliy Yegorov, speaking of our Proton booster which had a trajectory sensor installed upside down… “That was an issue of manufacturing culture. But I cannot exclude that someone else made the hole – some shop boss or someone else. But the deadline was approaching and they decided to fix it with glue. 

All this is nonsense, because on the ground they knew people were being launched. It’s a bad symptom - especially for Energia, since Energia (manufacturer of the Soyuz spacecraft) has a higher reputation for safety and responsibility than Khrunichev (maker of the Proton booster). 

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