Mystery of hole 'drilled into wall' of Space Station deepens

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NASA's statement comes after Roscosmos general director Dmitry Rogozin said the investigation has ruled out a manufacturing defect. It was followed by the 15th Dragon, which arrived in July with additional supplies.

Detected in August, the hole caused an air leak on the ISS but was quickly sealed up. And, in September, the seventh Japanese Konotouri cargo craft arrived just a week before the Expedition 56 trio departed for home.

The saga over who or what caused the damage has taken a number of unusual turns, and Russian space agency Roscosmos just issued a statement that adds yet another wrinkle.

Like most ISS astronauts, the returning crew had spent roughly half a year aboard the station, which included three space walks for the returning Americans. A Russian scientist who was to join the crew was pulled from the mission because the instruments he has been trained to use have been pushed back to a later date. In total Feustel now has almost 62 hours on spacewalks and Arnold has tallied over 32 hours.

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Artemyev conducted one spacewalk, with fellow cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, to manually launch four small technology satellites and install an experiment called Icarus onto the Russian segment of the space station.

After undocking TPK Soyuz MS-08 with the ISS and to arrive aboard the next expedition working in orbit will continue the crew cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyeva (Roscosmos), astronaut Serena Augen-Chancellor (NASA) and astronaut Alexander Gerst (ESA).

That suggests the hole was "an isolated issue", NASA said, not one expected to reappear on the next Soyuz, which is scheduled to launch October 11 from Kazakhstan with NASA's Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin.

NASA expressed confidence in the Soyuz manufacturing process. The flight should take place in 2022 before or after India's independent manned space mission.

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