The hole that caused a leak at the International Space Station last week came not from a meteorite as initially thought, Russia’s space agency confirmed Monday, but from someone’s hand — possibly while in space.
The hole came from inside a Russian spacecraft docked to the station as the result of a “technological error,” Dmitry Rogozin of Russia’s Roscosmos told a state news agency.
“It was done by a human hand,” Rogozin said Monday, according to TASS. “There are traces of a drill sliding along the surface.”
Finding the culprit is a “matter of honor” for Energia, the Russian corporation that made the craft, Rogozin added, including whether the hole was made on purpose and “where it was done — either on Earth or in space.”
“We are considering all the theories,” the space official told TASS.
Among those theories: A homesick or “mentally unstable” member of the space station’s crew could have deliberately drilled the hole, as former Russian cosmonaut Maxim Suraev suggested to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
“All of us are living people,” Suraev, who served on the station, said. “Everyone can want to go home, but this way is completely unworthy.”
Another report from the same agency suggested a production error from an Earth-bound employee was to blame.
Whatever the cause, Russia’s space agency has formed a commission to find out more, according to The Verge, which said NASA declined to comment on the matter.
The small leak came to the attention of mission control crews last Wednesday that, seeing no imminent threat, let the station’s crew sleep until the following day. Astronauts later found the two-millimeter hole in one of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked at the station.
After initially taping over the hole, cosmonauts eventually plugged it using epoxy and gauze. Atmospheric pressure was later restored.
The hole occurred in an orbital module, which won’t return to Earth. The space station’s six-person crew includes members from Russia, Germany and the United States.