spaceSpace and Physics

Russia Says That Hole On The ISS Was Definitely Drilled From The Inside


Katy Evans

Katy is Managing Editor at IFLScience where she oversees editorial content from News articles to Features, and even occasionally writes some.

Managing Editor


Despite the ongoing saga of the mysterious hole aboard the ISS, cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev denies any accusations against the crew. NASA

A lot of suspicious things happened in 2018. Amazon’s Alexa kept going rogue, Russia revealed a robot that turned out to be a human in a suit, and a mysterious hole appeared on the International Space Station (ISS), and no one knows why – still.  

The hole, which was in the side of a Soyuz capsule docked at the ISS, was definitely drilled from the inside, according to a Russian cosmonaut that has recently returned to Earth.


If you are unaware or haven’t kept up to date with this months-long saga, here’s a recap.

In August NASA announced the discovery of a leak, in the form of a small 2-millimeter hole, aboard the space station after mission control noticed a drop in pressure. The hole was traced to the Soyuz capsule, and was likely created by a micrometeoroid. Nobody was in danger, no drama.

In fact, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst reportedly plugged the hole with his finger to temporarily solve the issue, effectively touching space without a space suit.

Then the story took a turn for the weird when it was discovered that the hole looked an awful lot like it had been drilled.

The infamous hole in the Soyuz capsule appears to have been drilled from the inside. NASA

Just a few days later, Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, announced they were considering whether this was a technical error or “deliberate spoilage”, while Russian newspapers went as far as to outright accuse US astronauts of sabotage.

Both Russia and the US launched investigations, and it was mostly agreed the hole had been drilled on the ground before the capsule ever got to space, as microgravity would make drilling in space rather difficult, though it is still unknown who by or why.

In December, cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Oleg Kononenko, completed a successful 8-hour-long spacewalk to investigate the hole from the outside, collecting samples that have been returned, along with Prokopyev and two astronauts, to Earth to be studied by Russian law enforcement.

Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko on the spacewalk to inspect the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, 250 miles above Earth, December 11. NASA

The space travelers actually returned to Earth in the Soyuz spacecraft, but they were perfectly safe. The hole was plugged with epoxy resin and gauze and the section of the capsule the hole was in jettisoned before they re-entered Earth's atmosphere.


Upon his return, Prokopyev told a news conference he could confirm the hole originated from the capsule’s interior and it was now “up to the investigative organs to judge when that hole was made,” reports the Associated Press.

So, the story is ongoing, we still aren't clear on the details, and it remains a mystery for now.

However, when asked about the possibility the drill was carried out in space, implying possibly by an astronaut, Prokopyev defended his fellows, sharply telling the media: "You shouldn’t think so badly of our crew.” 


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